Norwich to get new nature reserve - two decades later than it should have

Friends of West Earlham Woods and pupils from West Earlham Infant School celebrate it becoming a loc

Friends of West Earlham Woods and pupils from West Earlham Infant School celebrate it becoming a local nature reserve.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A woods in Norwich has become the city's ninth local nature reserve - two decades after it was supposed to get the status.

Members of Norwich City Council's controlling Labour cabinet last night agreed to award the status to West Earlham Woods - which consists of Twenty Acre Wood and Bunkers Hill Wood.

West Earlham Woods date back to at least the 18th century and are considered an important wildlife site and a valuable community asset. But they have suffered from anti-social behaviour, especially flytipping.

Councillors heard that declaring somewhere as a local nature reserve (LNR) 'offers strong legal protection to sites and their associated wildlife and it helps to raise their profile with both the public and potential funding bodies'.

The report which came before councillors stated: 'During the 1990s, eight LNRs were designated in Norwich. West Earlham Woods were listed for LNR designation at this time, but this never actually occurred and since then no further LNRs have been designated in Norwich.

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'The Friends of West Earlham Woods, a local community-based group, asked the city council to pursue LNR designation for the site.

'Natural England, the government's wildlife conservation advisor responsible for overseeing LNRs, has given its official support.'

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New signs will be put up at the entrance to the woods, a 'deep clean' carried out to remove flytipping amd leaflets sent to homes nearby urging them to dispose of their waste properly.

A mountain bike trail will also be created in the woods.

The award of nature reserve status was welcomed by the local community, including children from West Earlham Infant School.

Sally Button, Labour city councillor for Bowthorpe and a member for the Friends of West Earlham Woods, said: 'It's a nice recognition of the hard work of the community.

'A lot of people use the woods, for walking their dogs or just for walking. It's a really nice refuge. There's quite a bit of wildlife in there, such as deer, squirrels, birds and bats.'

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