New partnership aims to make Broads and wetlands healthier

The sun shines out over the River Yare at Bramerton. Picture: Denise Bradley The sun shines out over the River Yare at Bramerton. Picture: Denise Bradley

Friday, June 13, 2014
11:50 AM

Water quality and shortage, flooding and wildlife habitat will be issues tackled by a new partnership aimed at creating healthier water and wetlands in an area more than 10 times the size of the Broads.

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The Broads

The Broads is a unique mosaic of lakes, land and rivers that has national park status.

This area covers 303 sq km, is the UK’s largest protected wetland, is renowned for its biodiversity and boasts a quarter of its rarest species.

The broad, shallow lakes are man-made rather than natural. They began as pits dug for peat to provide

fuel during medieval times. Over the centuries water levels rose, the peat diggings became flooded and by the 14th century they were abandoned.

Six rivers link the broads and each of the river valleys has a distinctive feel, reflecting the different landscapes and land uses.

The area is dotted with pretty market towns and villages and is the only member of the national park family which embraces a city, as Norwich is right on its doorstep.

There are a variety of habitats including fen, carr woodland and grazing marshes.

The landmark Broadland Rivers Catchment Plan aims to bring together organisations, businesses and people to improve the rivers and waterways upstream of the Broads, as well as where they flow into the sea.

Produced by the Broadland Catchment Partnership (BCP), the plan aims to give communities their say on how to improve the water environment in their area.

The catchment includes the area that feeds water into the rivers Bure, Waveney, Wensum and Yare and out to sea at Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft.

Neil Punchard, Broadland Catchment Partnership officer, said: “It has a strong farming heritage, internationally important wildlife, excellent angling, inland navigation, stunning landscapes and coast, historic towns, and includes the city of Norwich.”

The partnership hopes to replicate the prize-winning work undertaken to restore the River Wensum, with similar improvements in the other river catchments and smaller feeder streams.

The plan could be used to secure funding for projects such as biobeds to filter out pesticides, better drainage systems, or improving outdated flood defences and removing fish barriers.

Water companies, farmers and wildlife trusts are among those on board, and organisations hope by working together funding can be used efficiently on projects with shared benefits.

The plan summarises the work that is already going on, outlines what still needs to be done, and includes realistic actions that everyone can take to improve water, wetlands and wildlife, while saving time and money.

Geoff Doggett, chairman of the River Waveney Trust, which is hosting the launch of the plan at the River Waveney Study Centre next Thursday, said: “People are connected to their local river, from flushing their toilet to turning on their taps and many people love to go fishing or boating. We have over 600 members that are learning about and improving their local waterways.”

To get involved, email admin@broadlandcatchmentpartnership.org.uk
Once launched, the plan can be downloaded at www.broadlandcatchmentpartnership.org.uk

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