£210,000 boost for west Norfolk’s wetland wildlife


Norfolk Wildlife Trust opens the new year with an exciting new project making vital improvements to rare wildlife-rich wetlands near Kings Lynn.

Thanks to £210,350 from the FCC Communities Foundation as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, the new ‘Grimston Wetscapes’ project sees the wildlife charity embarking on further restoration of parts of NWT Roydon Common and Tony Hallatt Memorial Reserve. The land forms part of a huge area of globally important wildlife habitats, including woodlands, wetlands and heathland (see note 1).

Together, these nature reserves represent one of the most important lowland wetland and heath landscapes in the UK. The sites support an incredibly diverse range of plant and insect life, including many species that are rare or threatened in the UK including black darter dragonfly, insectivorous sundew plants and tormentil mining bee.

The wetlands found across the sites also provide one of the most important locations for breeding waders in lowland England, whilst the drier heathland habitats support nationally important breeding populations of iconic species, such as nightjar and woodlark and a winter home for a range of raptor species, including hen harriers, merlins and marsh harriers.

Historically, these sites would have formed part of a vast chain of wetlands, but due to drainage, afforestation and development, almost all of these have now been lost.

The new project will build on decades of work by the Trust to successfully restore NWT Roydon Common and Tony Hallatt Memorial Reserve for wildlife. The work focuses on making improvements to the way in which water is managed across the sites (see note 2).

In addition to supporting rare wildlife, healthy, functioning peatlands are the most important UK habitat for carbon storage, crucial in helping to combat the impacts of climate change.

Ash Murray, Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s West Norfolk Reserves Manager, explains: “Over the last 20 years, we have worked hard to restore the heathland and wetland habitats of these precious sites and been thrilled to see so much rare and fascinating wildlife return - from incredible insect-eating plants and peat-forming mosses to rare fungi and an abundance of breeding wading birds.

“We are excited to be embarking on this ambitious project to continue to restore these vital wetlands in Norfolk. We aim to bring back more natural water flows, undoing the damage caused by long-term land drainage systems. We will also be restoring a former stream with pools where an abundance of dragonflies will once again bustle and clash wings as they compete for territories over an abundance of rare plants including fountain apple-moss and lesser water plantain.

“Our work will bring back to life wetlands that have been damaged by past pollution and climate change for the benefit of Norfolk’s wildlife and people. In addition to helping to combat the impacts of climate change, we’ll be providing thriving reservoirs of peatland species that can help to reestablish damaged peatlands elsewhere in west Norfolk.”

The project will also support Norfolk Wildlife Trust to better manage the ponies and cattle that graze the site to better benefit wildlife, as well as investing in new ways to survey how the wildlife across the area is faring - helping the wildlife charity to support some of Norfolk’s rarest creatures into the future.

The works are due to be completed in March 2025.

Photo below is of Grimston Warren and credited to Mike Page.