Dereham’s Neatherd Moor surveyed for its potential as a County Wildlife Site

Neatherd Moor is being surveyed by staff from the NWT - From left, Helen Baczkowska starts the surve

Neatherd Moor is being surveyed by staff from the NWT - From left, Helen Baczkowska starts the survey, watched by Town Councillor Phillip Duigan and County Councillor William Richmond. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Survey work has begun to discover whether a popular beauty spot in Dereham could be designated as a County Wildlife Site (CWS).

Neatherd Moor, a favourite haunt of dog-walkers and nature lovers in the town, is being assessed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust for its biodiversity value.

With funding from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, the survey is being carried out under the trust's Magical Meadows initiative, which aims to identify the county's best wildflower grasslands.

But it will also assess whether the moor meets the criteria to become a CWS, which could raise its profile and allow its natural charms to be protected and enhanced.

Helen Baczkowska, conservation officer for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, met town and district councillors on the site before the start of the survey.

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She said: 'Until we do this we have got no idea what is there or what the value of the site is.

'Magical Meadows is about recording, surveying and improving the profile of wildflower meadows across Norfolk.

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'Another possible outcome could be a CWS. The criteria are very complicated and scientific, but they rest on the botanical richness of the site and its general contribution to conservation in Norfolk.

'It would be a bit of kudos, really. It is about flagging it up and saying, 'This is a really good place for wildlife in Norfolk', and it opens up the door for us to have a relationship with the landowners.

'Even if it does not stack up as a CWS, it is obviously really important to local people and we can help them to maintain and enhance the site for wildlife.'

The results of the survey are expected later this year.

Breckland councillor Will Richmond, who met conservation officers on the site before the survey, said: 'The objective of the CWS survey is to identify the variety of species on the Neatherd but, should the site be designated, the mission in the longer term is to enhance the biodiversity of the moor and Etling Green.

'Orchids, willow warblers and great-crested newts are just some of the plants, birds and amphibians which Norfolk Wildlife Trust may well find, and which we intend to conserve.'

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