Lottery cash windfall to rescue rare species of wildlife in unique Brecks
Suffolk and Norfolk's distinctive Brecks region - renowned throughout Europe for its virtually unrivalled biodiversity - is to receive a major share of a national multi-million pound Heritage Lottery Fund award to pull rare species back from the brink of extinction, it has been announced.
As part of a £4.6million national Back from the Brink project, the Brecks scheme will be backed by almost £500,000 and involve a wide-ranging partnership of conservation organisations. Called Shifting Sands –Securing a Place in the Brecks, the local scheme reflects the unique and special character of the Breckland landscape.
The area is so unusual, and hosts so many rare species, because of its climate and geology. Unlike most of the UK's 'maritime' climate which tends to be mild and wet, the Brecks has a more like Continental climate, with the lowest rainfall in the country - it is hot in summer and has more winter frosts than any other lowland area. It has mix of chalk and sandy soils and its history of human settlement and management has led to the creation of unique habitats such as grass heath and inland sand dunes, which support rare wildlife and gives the area the accolade of being one of the top three for rare plants in the UK.
The Heritage Lottery Fund award to the partnership of organisations will enable conservationists to carry out research and management projects to rescue some rare species and their habitats, as well as to engage with landowners and the public.
Some 16 rare species - five plants, five invertebrates, two reptiles and four bird species will benefit from the project over three years with a legacy of 10 years and beyond. Plant species include field wormwood and red-tipped cudweed, moths include basil-thyme case-bearer moth and lunar-yellow underwing and birds include stone-curlew and woodlark.
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The key partners include Plantlife, University of East Anglia, Forestry Commission, Butterfly Conservation Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Buglife in addition to collaboration with local land managers such as the Elveden Estate.
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