£4.6m bid to restore Ice Age landscape in the Brecks

Ian Froggatt, estate manager at the Woodland Trust, pictured with Green Farm near Thompson

Ian Froggatt, estate manager at the Woodland Trust, which aims to raise £4.6m to restore Ice Age landscapes and pingo ponds at Green Farm near Thompson - Credit: Matthew Roberts/WTML

A £4.6m fundraising campaign is under way to create new woodlands and protect an ancient Ice Age landscape on farmland in the Brecks.

The Woodland Trust is seeking the public's help to fund conservation work at Green Farm at Thompson, near Watton.

It has acquired the 119 hectares of agricultural land in an area distinguished by "pingos" - rare ponds created by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.

Ian Froggatt, estate manager at the Woodland Trust, said the pingos are popular habitats for damselflies and great crested newts, but are under threat from nutrient enrichment from pollutants.

“If we are successful in raising the £4.6m needed to care for the site we will look to plant native trees, we'll create a mosaic of native broadleaf woodland, natural grassland and wood pasture, as well as over 2km of newly-planted hedges linking up isolated veteran trees.

“Making the most of established habitats close by and planting native trees will be an essential way to preserve the future of these natural gems that have remained for thousands of years – the trees will reduce surface runoff which carries nutrients to the water bodies and stabilise the soil as well as provide habitat for wildlife."

The Woodland Trust owns 12 sites across Norfolk, and says more trees are desperately needed in the county because it has woodland cover of about 10pc compared to the national average of 13pc.

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The trust also aims to introduce a network of paths for public access and restore dried-up "ghost" pingos, while working with Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) which owns the neighbouring Thompson Common nature reserve. 

That reserve is home to more than 400 pingos, and also saw the successful reintroduction of the northern pool frog, a species that had been extinct in the UK since the 1990s.

The Woodland Trust aims to raise £4.6m to restore Ice Age landscapes and pingo ponds at Green Farm near Thompson

The Woodland Trust aims to raise £4.6m to restore Ice Age landscapes and pingo ponds at Green Farm near Thompson. The light green area is a dried-up 'ghost' pingo pond - Credit: Matthew Roberts/WTML

NWT chief executive Eliot Lyne said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Woodland Trust to expand and protect new areas of iconic Brecks habitat.

“It’s clear how much potential this area holds to support the fight against biodiversity loss in the UK.

"Nature needs our urgent support, and it is essential that we work together on a landscape scale to provide wildlife with the space it needs to survive."

The Woodland Trust has already secured significant grants, but still needs £1.5m to reach its project target.