Innovation and partnership at the heart of safeguarding Norfolk landscape
On Friday 14 June, a special event will take place on Halvergate Marshes in Norfolk to mark a significant step in improving the farmed landscape in the region.
The celebration event sees partners and landowners coming together to mark the progress of the Halvergate Marshes Restoration Project. Speakers at the event include: Professor Jenny Gill - University of East Anglia, Henry Cator - Chairman BIDB, Martin Harper - RSPB Director of Conservation, Tony Juniper - Chair of Natural England.
In a collaboration between RSPB and Internal Drainage Board, dedicated conservationists have worked tirelessly on the Halvergate Marshes Freshwater Project to combat the changes seen across the landscape through climate change.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: “If we are to protect our wildlife and natural environment in the face of rapid climate change, then we need to plan and act now.
The Halvergate Marshes have an important place in the history of conservation and the area is set to shape the agenda for the future too. By harnessing the power of strong partnership, I hope the RSPB, Internal Drainage Board and local landowners can bring benefits for wildlife, the landscape, water security, farming and people, and in so doing inspire equally positive initiatives right across the country.”
Halvergate Marshes is one of the largest in Europe and the 2nd largest in the UK. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), amongst other important designations, and is of significance for its ability to hold large quantities of water, support a fantastic array of wildlife as well as a system of grazing for local farmers.
However, increased pressures and climate change poses a serious threat to the future of these marshes. The marshes were reclaimed over 400 years ago and now sit below sea level. Climate change predictions show that the availability of this fresh water will become less reliable due to higher tides and longer periods of drought in this area.
Working in partnership with Broads Internal Drainage Board and specific landowners, this project has found innovative solutions to manage water across the marshes to ensure that they can continue to be a hugely dynamic wetland into the future.
RSPB Site Manager, Mark Smart explained: “With climate change impacting our environment we can see that sea levels are rising and the regularity of tidal surges is predicted to increase, having major consequences on inland landscapes, like Halvergate.
“Working with the Water Management Alliance on behalf of the Broads Internal Drainage Board, local landowners, and with funding from the Environment Agency, together we have created a scheme that will ensure freshwater is always available in this important landscape. It will enable about 60,000 cubic metres of freshwater to be stored at any time.”
The new four-kilometre watercourse – known as a ‘Higher Level Carrier - leading from the River Bure will allow freshwater to be stored and used for farming and wildlife. The project itself will offer a reliable supply of freshwater, especially in times of drought or flood, supporting and protecting freshwater species and wet grazing practices and ultimately allowing the marshes to adapt to climate change in the future.
Mark concludes: “If we are to keep special places like Halvergate marshes safe and sound, we need to act now, so that habitats have time to develop and become suitable. This will require more innovative work from us, other conservation organisations and governments.”
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Last Updated: Wednesday 12 June 2019