Hopes voles will return through chalk stream project

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There are hopes water voles, Britain's fastest-declining mammal, will return to parts of Norfolk thanks to a restoration project. - Credit: PA

A chalk stream river that feeds into the Norfolk Broads is to be returned to its former glory in a conservation project that is set to benefit wildlife including water voles, Britain’s fastest-declining mammal.

The National Trust is leading the £1.6 million partnership project on the Upper Bure, one of just 200 chalk stream rivers in the world which have been described "as England’s rainforests".

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File photo of Emily Long, National Trust project manager.

Clusters of wetlands, ditches and ponds will be established beside the river which runs through mid and north Norfolk during the four-year scheme, creating corridors for wildlife.

Work will also be carried out to return the stream, which has been over-deepened and widened, to a meandering pattern.

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The Silvergate stream on Blickling Estate, which feeds into the River Bure and then into the Norfolk Broads. The Silvergate has already been restored as part of the National Trust-led project. - Credit: PA/National Trust

Water voles are set to benefit, and pond corridors will also support dragonflies and toads, while the installation of a fish pass will help trout and eel populations.


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Emily Long, the National Trust’s project manager, said: “Chalk streams are a quintessential part of the English landscape and have huge ecological value – they’re our equivalent of rainforests.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY AUGUST 16 EDITORIAL USE ONLY Undated handout photo issued by the National T

The Silvergate stream on Blickling Estate, which feeds into the River Bure and then into the Norfolk Broads. The Silvergate has already been restored as part of the National Trust-led project. - Credit: PA/National Trust

“Protecting these special habitats, as well as the species they support, is fundamental in our battle against the biodiversity crisis.

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“The Bure is one of four main rivers that feeds into the Norfolk Broads and so has a significance beyond its banks in ensuring the health of the UK’s largest protected wetland.

“This project is about bringing benefit to an entire catchment.

“We’re looking at everything from riverbanks, meadows and ponds to footpaths, community engagement and volunteering.

“Seeing a clear chalk stream rippling over gravels and full of fish is something we should all have the opportunity to experience.

“The more we get people involved, the more they’re likely to protect these places in the future.

“We want people to fall back in love with rivers.”

The stream, rising in Melton Constable, flows through the National Trust’s Felbrigg and Blickling estates.

The trust is to plant 8,000 trees along the Upper Bure, slowing the speed at which water runs into the stream, as part of the project, boosting resilience to climate change.

The Trust is continuing to fundraise for the scheme – visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bure-appeal for further details.

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