Appeal launched to protect unique landscape and rare species
- Credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
One of the Brecks’ most important nature reserves could be expanded, protecting its rare wildlife and habitats from the effects of climate change.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is appealing for help to purchase a series of arable fields and seminatural woodland next to its Thompson Common reserve, near Watton.
This land would then be brought into NWT’s conservation management to restore its Brecks heath grassland present in the 18th Century and prehistoric pools that have been lost.
Thompson Common is one of NWT’s biodiversity hotspots. Its mosaic of habitats – wet and dry grasslands, hedges, woodland and more than 400 Ice Age pools known as pingos – are precious and support much rare and threatened wildlife including dragonflies, aquatic snails and may rare water plants. England’s rarest native amphibian the northern pool frog was reintroduced to the site in 2015.
The land available includes 42 hectares at adjacent Mere Farm, where a number of “ghost” pingos have been revealed through geospatial mapping, which NWT can restore, reinstating further rare habitat for the wildlife of Thompson Common and connecting the nature reserve to a network of protected Brecks sites, to increase its future resilience. Alongside Mere Farm, a further 11.5 hectares of semi-natural woodland is available. Also containing shaded pingos, the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the only known East Anglian home of the pond mud snail.
NWT must raise £625,625 by May next year to secure these two areas of land, together covering 53.5 hectares. A generous legacy has already given the Trust a significant head start.
NWT chief executive Pamela Abbott said: “Such ambitious projects do not come without a cost and even in these challenging times for us all we need to raise a further £200,000 to secure the land.
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“With the help of our members, supporters and people in Norfolk who love this area, we can better protect Thompson Common, recreate rare habitats which have been lost, and enable wildlife to move across the landscape which is crucial in the changing climate.”
Nature conservation manager Jon Preston, who oversees the reserve, said: “The habitats of the Brecks are vital to 28pc of the UK’s rarest species and we need to do what we can to protect and restore them. With much of the surrounding land currently in intensive arable farming, this is a rare opportunity to reinstate the thriving Breckland grass heath once present. The origin of pingos makes them unique, and it is essential that we conserve this finite resource and restore their ghost forms where possible.”
Donations can be made online at www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal or over the phone on 01603 625540.