Grant Helps Fen Biodiversity

Almost £50,000 helps Trust help Norfolk reserves

The Hawk and Owl Trust has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant to improve biodiversity on several County Wildlife Sites in Norfolk.

Fen Vegetation BalerThe £49,600 grant, made through HLF’s Your Heritage programme, will be used to encourage local communities to get involved with wildlife sites on their doorsteps. Some of the money plus funding from a NatWest CommunityForce grant will also allow the Trust to purchase specialist machinery to cut and bale fen vegetation.

In a partnership with Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Hawk and Owl Trust has identified a number of county wildlife sites that would benefit from being cut with the specialist machinery.

Cutting fen and grassland is important to prevent a few species becoming dominant and to allow a wide range of species to flourish, including some rare plants. The project officer will encourage people in local communities living near these sites to get involved in surveying the sites to monitor the effect on biodiversity that the cutting will bring.

Highland CattleThe specialist baling machinery will allow the Trust to bale the herb rich fen vegetation when it is cut so it will not be wasted but instead used in the winter to feed highland cattle on its Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve. During the rest of the year the highland cattle help to manage grassland on the reserve by grazing dominant species such as rush.

Nigel Middleton, Hawk and Owl Trust Conservation Officer for the Eastern Region said:

“This grant will be a boost for biodiversity on County Wildlife Sites in Norfolk and allows us to provide an exciting opportunity for people to get involved with their local wildlife. The baling machinery will also allow us to use the herb rich fen hay to feed the highland cattle that play an important role grazing meadows at our Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve.”

Andrina Walmsley, Conservation Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said

“This new piece of machinery gives us a fantastic opportunity to give practical help to landowners of sites which are too small or difficult to graze. Many of the sites we deal with are important at county level because of the range of wildflowers and plants that grow there, but they need very careful management to ensure that they do not deteriorate. Fencing a site so it can be grazed is often just not possible, so cutting and then baling the hay to remove it from the site is an excellent alternative. We already have a list of sites where we know the baler is going to be extremely useful, and are looking forward to working closely with the Hawk and Owl Trust on this exciting new project.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

“We at HLF are delighted to be able to announce this award to the Hawk and Owl Trust. This support will enable them to do fantastic work in conserving habitats across Norfolk, getting new people involved and exploring their local natural heritage.”

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