West Norfolk project benefits common’s visitors and biodiversity

Woodlark, credit Chris Mills.

Woodlark, credit Chris Mills. - Credit: Archant

Rare marsh gentians are now in flower at East Winch Common, near King's Lynn, after a two-year, £40,000 conservation project to improve and protect valuable habitat.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust project included tree thinning and installing infrastructure to introduce cattle at the common, which is one of the largest surviving remnants of the extensive heathland that once covered large areas of west Norfolk.

Important species at the site include the scarce emerald damselfly, marsh gentian, woodlark and both oblong-leaved and round-leaved sundews.

The NWT's head of nature reserves John Milton said: 'The heathland had reduced in size due to encroachment of birch and oak scrub, and with the remaining area gradually becoming dominated by purple moor grass. Removal of scrub, together with creating shorter vegetation and localised areas of bare ground will allow the less competitive wet heathland plant species, which make East Winch so special, to colonise areas without being overwhelmed by vigorous grasses. The rarest of these are now being afforded additional protection through custom-made guards.'

The project was carried out thanks a grant of £39,224 from the Veolia Environmental Trust, whose project manager, Rob Hargraves, said: 'The improvements benefit biodiversity and site users. New interpretation helps people know what's there and how to find their way around and the cattle help maintain the interesting wildlife and also help keep paths open for visitors.'

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Has a successful conservation project been completed near you? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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