Plans to develop Fakenham’s ‘hidden gem’ into a nature reserve

Just a stone's throw away from the centre of Fakenham is the town's 'hidden gem' –an internationally-important wildlife site which many residents do not know exists.

Now Robin Parker, the chairman of the Fakenham branch of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, has unveiled his exciting plans to develop it into a nature reserve.

Mr Parker, 69, has bought half of the 12 acres of fen and water meadow, known as Edmundson's Acres, from Fakenham Area Partnership and is hoping to buy the rest from Fakenham Town Council.

He is developing it into Parker's Peace nature reserve, with particular emphasis on wildflowers and invertebrates.

The land is off Gogg's Mill Road and consists of four fields, three of which are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, by Natural England, one is a Norfolk Wildlife Trust County Wildlife Site and they all lie within a Special Area of Conservation, a Brussels designation under the European Habitats Directive.

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These all protect the land from development.

Breeding otters, kingfishers and white-clawed crayfish can be found in the River Wensum which runs through the site, which is also home to a barn owl, voles, the rare Desmoulin's whorl snail and numerous birds including blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and robins.

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Mr Parker said: 'It is rare to have a wonderful place like this, so close to a town centre, just 20 metres behind a Tesco supermarket, which is so peaceful.

'I'd say 99% of people in Fakenham don't know this place exists – it is Fakenham's hidden gem.'

Much of the land's importance is due to its location.

The emphasis of conservationists now is to link reserves together to form wildlife corridors so that species can move freely between them.

The land lies between The Hawk and Owl Trust's Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve and Norfolk Ornithologists' Association's Hempton Marsh reserve, to the west, and Pensthorpe Nature Reserve and Senowe Park to the east.

Mr Parker, who lives in Fakenham, has had a bird hide built on the site and is working with experts to develop the land.

He said: 'I grew up near a bomb site in Ipswich. As a child I was amazed to see, amongst all of this devastation, were the most beautiful flowers.

'Since then it has been my lifelong dream to develop a wildflower meadow and I'm delighted to now have the chance to do so in my home town.

'The land has never been looked after and this will be an asset to Fakenham.

'It takes years to fully develop a wildflower meadow.

'I'm now approaching 70, so maybe when I'm 80 I'll sit on a log and admire what has been achieved.'

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