Wildlife survey discovers rare species on Norfolk Broads

A pioneering survey which has revealed the Broads as an astonishing hotspot for Britain's rarest wildlife has been hailed as a major boost for green tourism.

The year-long audit by researchers at the University of East Anglia's school of environmental sciences has discovered the Broads provides a haven for an incredible quarter of the nation's rarest species.

While it has long been realised species such as the swallowtail butterfly and Norfolk hawker dragonfly are restricted to the region, the exhaustive examination of 1.5 million records has shown there are many more previously unrecognised species found solely on the Broads.

These range from the Broads dolly fly and slender amber snail to the scarce marsh neb (a rare moth).

Some of the species found only have a Latin name and in the near future EDP readers will be invited to take part in a naming competition.

Broads Authority senior ecologist Andrea Kelly described the survey, commissioned by the authority and supported by Natural England, as a major boost for green tourism.

'The wider public may not understand the full significance of biodiversity but many people love to visit an area recognised as being so special,' she said.

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John Lindsay, boss of Clippesby Hall, the green holiday park near Acle which won best caravan and holiday park in the EDP Tourism Awards 2011, said it was 'an absolutely amazing achievement' for the Broads to be home to 25pc of the nation's rarest species.

He said: 'We try hard to promote the Broads as a special wildlife area and that is why we use the term Broads National Park. We do feel it is that important.'

Welcoming the survey, James Knight, boss of Waveney River Centre, near Beccles, said the findings supported their efforts to turn their park into a wildlife haven.

He said: 'We have won the David Bellamy gold conservation award for the past three years. We are lucky that we are right next to the marshes and river and on the doorstep of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Carlton Marshes nature reserve.'

Ian Russell, director of Wroxham Barns, said: 'This announcement confirms the unique appeal of the Broads and gives us a wonderful opportunity to attract visitors who want to come to the area for the right reasons.

'We show beautiful Broads Authority sourced film on our screens at Wroxham Barns to remind visitors of the very special nature of the Broads.'

The survey, only the second of its kind in the UK to be carried out over such a large area, has highlighted some remarkable success stories such as the comeback of the otter, crane, bittern and marsh harrier.

On a disappointing note it has shown that the Broads has lost six species every decade since the 1950s.

Ms Kelly said the results of the survey would point the way to protecting the Broads rare wildlife and preventing further extinctions.

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