Holkham Estate to manage area of North Norfolk coastline after being awarded special status by Natural England

Holkham Beach. Picture by Bob Frewin

Holkham Beach. Picture by Bob Frewin - Credit: Bob Frewin

The Holkham Estate has been awarded a special status that will enable it to manage an area of the north Norfolk coastline which has until now been under the management of Natural England.

The Earl of Leicester at Holkham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Earl of Leicester at Holkham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The estate underwent a lengthy application process to gain the Approved Body Status under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and it is now one of a select few privately owned estates to hold the status.

The area they will manage is the Holkham National Nature Reserve, a coastline area that stretches from Blakeney to Burnham Norton. It is comprised of a number of rare habitats including salt marsh, sand dunes, pine woodland, beach and grazing marsh.

The present landscape is largely man-made, having been reclaimed from salt marsh between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. A small team led by the conservation manager is responsible for the daily management of the reserve.

The Earl of Leicester said: 'I am very proud the Holkham Estate has been awarded this special status. We have been running the reserve now for over four years under the watchful eye of Natural England, who have been really helpful and supportive, and of course we managed it for over 300 years before it became a National Nature Reserve. That custodianship led to it being designated as a nature reserve. I am delighted Natural England has also been impressed by the way our team of three wardens, led by manager Sarah Henderson, have set about their business.

'We are acutely aware of the popularity of Holkham and Wells beaches and the pressure large visitor numbers can have on the national nature reserve, so the estate's experience of managing tourism businesses will be of benefit as we develop our visitor management strategy. As well as being a tourist destination for birdwatchers and beachgoers it is also important for academic research and school visits. The reserve sits at the heart of the estate and it is right and proper that we manage it with our qualified, locally-based team, of whom I am very proud.'

Natural England's area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, Sarah Dawkins, said: 'It's a real testimony to the commitment and the vision of the estate that we've awarded them approved body status and a huge recognition of Holkham's achievement as stewards of this special place.'

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