Wildlife trust hits £625k target to expand precious nature reserve

A pingo at Thompson Common

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has raised £625,625 to expand its nature reserve at Thompson Common. Pictured is one of its 400 Ice Age pools known as pingos - Credit: Neal Trafankowski

One of the most important nature reserves in the Brecks is set to be expanded after Norfolk Wildlife Trust reached its £625,625 fundraising target to buy new land.

The trust is acquiring 59 hectares alongside Thompson Common, near Watton, thanks to an "incredible legacy" which kick-started its appeal, and the "remarkable generosity of members, EDP readers and supporters from all over the UK".

The plots include arable land at Mere Farm and woodland habitats at Stow Bedon, as well as Crow’s Meadow.

The new areas will now be brought under NWT’s conservation management and added to the National Nature Reserve at Thompson Common -  hailed as one of Norfolk’s "biodiversity hotspots".

Its mosaic of precious habitats – wet and dry grasslands, hedges, woodland and more than 400 Ice Age pools known as pingos – support many rare and threatened species including dragonflies, aquatic snails, and England’s rarest amphibian, the northern pool frog. 

Jon Preston, NWT nature conservation manager, at Thompson Common

Jon Preston, NWT nature conservation manager, at Thompson Common - Credit: Steve Cox

Jon Preston, NWT nature conservation manager, said: “The prospect of taking on a new piece of land, especially one with as much potential as Mere Farm, is an exciting one.

"Its proximity to our existing reserve at Thompson Common means that there is amazing opportunity to restore rare ice age pingos, recreate Brecks grassland habitats, and reconnect the landscape to protect Thompson Common and its wildlife.”

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This will involve soil sampling and investigating the hydrology and landscape of the site, using three-dimensional mapping to identify subtle differences in the topography where old pingos may have existed. Restoration will require grazing with sheep and cattle, and potentially even removing the top layer of soil, said the trust.

NWT's interim joint chief executive Nik Khandpur said: "In total these three land areas cover 59 hectares and represent a major acquisition for the conservation charity during this, our 95th anniversary year.

"Restoring this land back to its past richness will increase its resilience in the future for the many species that rely on its presence. This could not have been achieved without the major public support we received. We are inspired and humbled and wish to thank everyone who has supported us, in many different ways."

The northern pool frog which can be found at Thompson Common in Breckland

The northern pool frog which can be found at Thompson Common in Breckland - Credit: Jim Foster ARC

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Thompson Common

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Thompson Common - Credit: Shaun Lawson

Water violets at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Thompson Common

Water violets at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve at Thompson Common - Credit: James Symonds

Scarce emerald damselflies, which can be found at Thompson Common in Breckland

Scarce emerald damselflies, which can be found at Thompson Common in Breckland - Credit: Bernard Dawson


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