Deal to restore Elveden heathland
Adam Gretton A “jewel” in the region's landscape has been secured for future generations with the signing up of a deal that will help complete the restoration of a vast swathe of Brecks heathland.
A “jewel” in the region's landscape has been secured for future generations with the signing up of a deal that will help complete the restoration of a vast swathe of Brecks heathland.
Officials from the Elveden Estate, near Thetford, and Natural England gathered at an area off the A11 today to mark the launch of the largest environmental agreement in the East of England.
Almost a quarter of the 9,000 ha estate, owned by Lord Iveagh of the Guinness family, has joined up to the government agency's Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which will fund continued work to return the region's largest privately owned lowland heathland back to its former glory.
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Twenty years ago, the 1,400ha land at the Elveden Estate, which was thriving heathland before the second world war, was covered in a mix of grass, bracken, scrub and immature woodland.
But the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), off the region's main trunk road, is now being restored as a haven for heather and rare birds, butterflies and insects, thanks to the signing of the landmark agreement with Natural England.
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The HLS scheme, which covers 2,000ha of heathland, grassland and field margins at Elveden, aims to maintain and enhance the character of the area, protect the environment, and promote public access.
The estate is set to get about £200,000 a year from Natural England for the next ten years to manage the land and introduce sheep and shepherds to promote more heather growth.
A trial site at the public-access Weather Heath, near the Elveden war memorial monument, has already seen successful restoration of the habitat, which attracts nationally rare species such as the stone curlew, pine hawk moth, and grey carpet moth.
Lord Iveagh said: “We are delighted to celebrate the formal advent of Environmental Stewardship, which effectively helps safeguard our precious habitats for years to come,” he said.
Bill Nickson, from Natural England, added that the initiative proved that wildlife conversation and agriculture could go hand-in-hand.
“We are only 100m from the busy A11 and for people to be able to stop here and get out of their cars and enjoy this place is a privilege. This landscape has a capacity to make people feel better about life,” he said.