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					In the Field


How Hill designated a National Nature Reserve
How Hill Nature Reserve, owned by the Broads Authority, was designated a
National Nature Reserve by English Nature in May 2006.
National Nature Reserves, of which there are only 200 in the country, are among
the finest wildlife and earth heritage sites in England and are considered the
jewels in the crown of the SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) series.
How Hill, near Ludham, part of the Ant Broads and Marshes SSSI, is a unique
microcosm of the Broads, buzzing with nationally and internationally important
wildlife. It is a place where high quality land management and ecological
research take place, while attracting 25,000 visitors a year to its nature trails,
wildlife water trail, Toad Hole Cottage museum and information centre, moorings
and riverside paths.
Within How Hill’s 129 hectares are a mix of large areas of open fen, wet and dry
woodland, rush pasture, fen meadow and two areas of open water. A further 12
hectares of grassland and water gardens are leased to the How Hill Trust, which
uses the reserve as an educational resource for its environmental study centre.
Most of the reserve forms part of the Broads Special Area of Conservation
(SAC), Broadland Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar Site
internationally important for its birdlife. How Hill becomes the eighth NNR in the
Broads and has a five year management plan in operation.
To mark the designation the Broads Authority commissioned a striking 7ft high
stainless steel sculpture of its logo – a Norfolk Hawker dragonfly with filigree
wings which flutter in the breeze – which was unveiled by wildlife presenter Chris
Packham at a ceremony attended by How Hill trustees, Broads Authority
members, landowners and dignitaries, on 15th May 2006.
The sculpture, which was created by Norwich artist Sally Adams and assembled
by F. W. Hall & Son Ltd, of Norwich, marks the beginning of the wildlife nature
trail.
English Nature Chief Executive Andy Brown handed the certificate of declaration
to John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority.
Chris Packham, legendary presenter of BBC’s "The Really Wild Show", joined
pupils from Norwich High School, who were staying at How Hill house, for a spot
of dyke dipping before lunch.
Lottery lifeline to revive Broads skills
An exciting and far-reaching apprenticeship scheme to help revive the dying
millwrighting and reed and sedge cutting skills of the Broads has been made
possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Fund has awarded the Broads Authority and its partners £714,500 to run the
Reed, Sedge, Fens and Mills Bursary Scheme, which could preserve the
characteristic mills and fen landscape.
There are 74 drainage mills in the Broads, many of them derelict, yet
millwrighting skills are in danger of extinction. Meanwhile, the reed and sedge
cutting industry is not attracting enough new entrants to manage the acres of
reed, sedge and fen vegetation.
The £1,038,600 scheme will provide ten reed and sedge cutting bursaries, in two
tranches of five, for just over 11⁄2 years each and five mill wrighting bursaries for
31⁄2 years.
They will provide individually tailored, on the job training by the Broads Authority
to existing reedcutters, the remaining local millwright, Easton College, the
RSPB, English Nature, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust at a variety of sites on the
Broads.
Successful candidates may have the opportunity to gain a National Vocational
Qualification.
Environmental Stewardship
In 1985, the Broads Authority pioneered the Broads Grazing Marshes
Conservation Scheme, which offered landowners financial support to retain grass
marshes as an alternative to incentives under the Common Agricultural Policy to
turn these areas over to arable production.
This scheme provided a prototype for the Broads Environmentally Sensitive Area
(ESA) Scheme, which was one of a series of ESAs introduced at a national level
three years later in 1987.
The ESA scheme, combined with the production of water level management
plans, largely reversed the trend of agricultural intensification which took place
throughout much of the previous three or four decades. It prevented further
damage to the drained marshes by providing incentives for grassland
management, higher water levels and reduced fertiliser usage. The simple
options and payment system that operated within the ESA encouraged a high
uptake of this voluntary scheme within the Broads Grazing Marshes.
Although the scheme ended in March 2005, it is still highly relevant to the
management of the Broads Grazing Marshes. Some land will remain within the
terms of the Broads ESA until the expiry date of all agreements, which may be as
late as 2012.
As well as providing an incentive for the reversion of arable to grass, there were
three options for managing the existing grazing marshes. Those that delivered
the greatest environmental gain, such as raising water levels within the dykes,
attracted the highest payments.
The Environmental Stewardship (ES) Scheme was introduced in March 2005,
partly in response to the Curry Report, and replaced the Broads ESA scheme.
Essentially ES is a two-tiered scheme, and comprises Entry Level Environmental
Stewardship (ELS) and the Higher Level Environmental Stewardship (HLS).
The ELS is wholly new, while HLS incorporates the most successful elements of
the existing Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) and Countryside
Stewardship. The ELS is widely available and not restricted to specific features,
habitats or landscape types. HLS is a national scheme but, owing to limited
funding, is available on a discretionary and strongly targeted basis.
Previously, agri-environment schemes were agricultural in nature, with
environment ‘added on’. By comparison the new ES scheme has five primary
objectives:
•     Wildlife Conservation
•     Promotion of Public Access and Understanding
•     Protection of the Historic Environment
•     Maintenance and Enhancement of Landscape Quality and Character
•     Natural Resource Protection
Flood Management and Genetic Conservation are secondary scheme objectives
and can also be adopted where they contribute to one or more of the primary
objectives.
The Broads Authority is working closely with officers from the Rural Development
Service and English Nature to support the delivery of the new Environmental
Stewardship Scheme.
Links for Environmental Stewardship & Curry report are:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/schemes/es/default.htm
http://archive.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/farming
Eight Lakes PSA
The Broads Authority has allocated £300,000 for practical work to help achieve
Government Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets of ‘95% of SSSI areas
(Sites of Special Scientific Interest) in favourable condition by 2010’. A three year
programme, including sediment and marginal scrub removal, has been applied to
eight areas of open water (lakes) in the Broads. The project is delivered by a
partnership including English Nature, Environment Agency and Norfolk Wildlife
Trust.
Amongst the main achievements is clearance of marginal scrub at Cromes Broad
in the Ant Valley and Sprats Water complex in the Waveney. This work will help
the recovery of reed margins, moving towards ‘favourable condition’. In addition,
eroded sections of an island and marginal reedswamp at Martham South Broad
will have protective fencing and faggoting installed. A local natural product, hazel
coppice, will be used to construct the faggoting, combined with coir rolls
impregnated with native seed supported by post and netting fencing.
Dyke maintenance carried out at Alderfen Broad to clear vegetation and
sediment, will enable it to be reconnected to the system as lower nutrient levels
are reached within the catchment. Similar de-silting work will reconnect the
wetland from Upton Great Broad through the fens to the grazing marshes.
The repair of the Broads Authority’s mud pump engine will enable more projects
to be carried out ‘in house’ during 2006/08. This programme involves sediment
removal at Barnby Broad in the Waveney Valley and Little Broad off the
Muckfleet.
A new post of conservation officer has been appointed to the Waterways
Directorate who will focus on data management and collection. Further work will
include sampling to determine sediment quality before mud pumping, as well as
investigating disposal sites.
Finally a set of buoys to mark aquatic plant survey areas and wintering waterfowl
refuges has been purchased for the Upper Thurne. Some of these will be used in
the summer season for marking navigation hazards and aquatic plant areas.
Broads Research Advisory Panel
The Broads Research Advisory Panel (BRAP) holds themed seminars on
subjects of significance to the Broads and the Broads Authority. Three such
seminars were held during the year.
The first, on 23 June 2005 was on the theme of ‘The Landscape of the Broads
and its Cultural Routes’ with 65 participants including 12 speakers. The aims of
this seminar were to review what is known and unknown about the cultural
landscape and heritage of the Broads, including their links to Norwich and Great
Yarmouth, and to inform the process and criteria for World Heritage nomination,
its relevance to the Broads and its associated environs as a cultural landscape.
On 24 November a seminar on the theme of ‘The Broads in 2050’ considered the
future for Broadland and how the area could and should look in 50 years time.
This seminar attracted 78 participants including 10 speakers. Reference was
made to the vision in the Broads Plan and the underlying aim for the Broads to
become a more naturally functioning ecosystem. Dr Frans Vera from the National
Forest Service in the Netherlands gave an inspiring insight into their work on
large-scale ecological restoration and this was followed up with the idea of
reconnecting fragmented areas in the Broads in order to create more space for
nature and opportunities for people. The seminar also considered the major
factors which would shape Broadland in the future, including climate change, and
how we might respond to these factors.
Finally, on 16 February 2006, a seminar considered the ‘Latest Science About
the Functioning of the Upper Thurne and its Monitoring’ with 62 participants
including 10 speakers. The background to the Upper Thurne Research
Programme was provided, the origin of which was largely due to the fluctuating
environment at Hickling Broad. While much was known about Hickling, these
changes and their underlying causes were poorly understood, calling for further
research to inform future management. This seminar focused on the work of six
PhD and post-doctorate research studies, along with two other studies, and their
potential implications for the future management of the Upper Thurne system of
waterways.
Fen Research and Monitoring Workshop
In 2004 the Authority commissioned a desk study to review research and
monitoring initiatives that considered the impacts of fen management. The final
report, which was received in July 2005, summarised the techniques that have
been used, outlined the shortfalls and advantages of each method and identified
those areas of management that were yet to be addressed.
The report concluded with twenty-four recommendations outlining the areas of
research and monitoring that were needed to address the main gaps in our
knowledge and inform the debate on fen management.
In order to disseminate and receive feedback on the report and its
recommendations, the Authority held a workshop in December 2005. About thirty
representatives from a wide range of organisations, from both inside and outside
the Broads area, attended the day.
The participants expressed general support for the report and through a series of
brainstorming and group discussions identified the key questions regarding fen
management that require research and monitoring. These were grouped into
themes and discussed further in topic groups, resulting in a prioritised list of
monitoring and research ideas.
Ideas were shared across a wide range of organisations and individuals involved
with managing fen habitat. The next step is to draw up individual research and
monitoring projects and secure funding to take these forward.
Water Space Management Plans
Three Management Plans involving water space have been written this year and
begin in 2006. They are for the Upper Thurne, Barton and Trinity Broads.
The Broads Authority has hosted workshops and consultations over many years
with local working and liaison groups who have brought together issues,
concerns and information for discussion. Membership of the groups is wide-
ranging, representing local communities, landowners, recreation (including
boating, angling and walking), conservation, culture and heritage interests. The
Authority finally compiled the plans on behalf of the groups.
The overall aim of the plans is to provide a collaborative and sustainable
approach to managing the water space. They consider the quality of natural and
man-made features of the broads, highlighting opportunities that these provide
for recreation and enjoyment, which in turn contribute to the local economy.
The plans identify future challenges and opportunities for managing these special
water spaces, including climate change, recovery of aquatic plants and
recreational use. Finally, projects are listed in an action plan and progress will be
monitored on an annual basis.
The Barton Plan will be reviewed in five years and the Upper Thurne Plan, as an
interim plan, will be reviewed annually until 2009. In the meantime five PhD
research projects will conclude and the resultant information on the functioning of
the Upper Thurne and its wetland catchment is to be integrated into management
options within the plan. The five year Trinity Broads Management Plan is
undergoing a final editing and production of an action plan before its publication
in summer 2006.

				
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