Landscape partnership celebrates breaking new ground in the Brecks in 2016
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
The year of 2016 will go down in many memories as one of great change.
For the team at Breaking New Ground, it be remembered as part of one of the most in-depth explorations of a unique Norfolk habitat in modern times.
The Heritage Lottery Funded landscape partnership began its three year project to explore the Brecks across the Norfolk/Suffolk border in 2014 and the team has since learnt much about this dry heathland while working to engage other conservation partners and the general public in their quest.
So far BNG has undertaken 47 projects, of which seven have come to completion. These include ground disturbance work to reintroduce native Breckland plants and invertebrates, replanting and conservation of the area's iconic pine trees, and conducting laser screening across the landscape to map its archeological features.
The team has also created a short film about the history of Thetford warren lodge, – which comes with a teachers' information pack – put on an educational play, Beastly Brecks, about the area's native animals, and continued the restoration of Brandon's historic engine house.
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The project has worked with partners including Norfolk and Suffolk Wildlife Trusts, the counties' historic environment services, the RSPB and West Stow Country Park, as well as more than 750 volunteers.
Project manager Nick Dickson said: 'I think it has been a fantastic example of partnership working which could become a model for other organisations. East Anglia is at the forefront of that approach.
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'Because we are creating this communication across industries, they are finding new ways to work together too.'
Mr Dickson added that BNG plans to compile research from its conservation projects into guides for local environment services and landowners to inform future projects in the area, including the creation of public rights of way and further ground disturbance work.
'Because the Brecks is man made, technically, it is not classified as a natural landscape, but it is incredibly rich in nature.
'All the conservation groups who work in this area want some recognition for it and to help the community recognise it.'
BNG officer Ed Goodall said: 'We like finding the stories behind the landscape – they make people think they have something special. As a partnership we try to promote the environment and make people proud of where they live.'
The BNG team are extending the project past its expected finish date of March 2017 until the end of December 2017.
They are already making plans for a 'post-BNG' project about water in the Brecks, with plans to put together another Lottery funding bid next summer.