Funding boost for work at How Hill nature reserve in Ludham

Work to enhance the habitat at one of the Broads’ most important sites for species such as bitterns, marsh harriers and swallowtail butterflies has been boosted by more than �550,000 of funding.

News of the grant for How Hill national nature reserve, near Ludham, comes a few days after the importance of the Broads as a haven for rare wildlife was underlined by the largest fen survey ever undertaken in the UK.

The award from Natural England’s higher level stewardship scheme will result in payments of about �55,000 a year over the next decade.

The money will be spent on managing wetland at Buttle Marsh, Reedham Marsh and Turf Fen on the 365-acre How Hill estate; work will include cutting fen and maintaining the habitat for rare species.

Broads Authority chairman Stephen Johnson said: “This is one of the most precious parts of the Broads in terms of its natural and historical importance and needs careful management to protect it.”

Higher level stewardship is one of a series of agri-environment schemes which offer payments to farmers and land managers for effective land management to enhance the environment and wildlife.

The three-year fen survey, undertaken by environmental consultants and managed by the Broads Authority, recorded 450 types of plants, some of which are unique to the Broads.

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The survey also unveiled 850 species of invertebrate, a remarkable number considering only certain groups were targeted.

The study revealed that some of the most species rich fen had been restored and managed by the Broads Authority, Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the RSPB. The richest areas were found in turf ponds, where shallow open water areas had been dug in open fen.

It found that the work of the authority, partners and reed cutters had been vital to keep the fens free of scrub. In areas where scrub had not been cut back the rare plant species and insects had been lost or changed. The Ant Valley was found to be the richest area for both plants and invertebrates.

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk