Lottery fund backs new landscape scheme for watery edge of Brecks
PUBLISHED: 00:01 03 November 2017
Plans for a £3.3million landscape conservation scheme focusing on the wildlife-rich and historically important watery world where the Brecks meet the vast flatlands of the Fens has won vital initial backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The high-level HLF support for the proposed Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership Scheme is hailed today as “incredibly exciting news for the future of landscape scale conservation in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks.”
Made possible by National Lottery players, the new Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers scheme will aim to “understand, reveal, celebrate and protect the lost heritage” of an often-overlooked area, proposers said.
Planned to involve 60 partner organisations, the scheme will aim to include 46 innovative projects, ranging from citizen science delivering ground-breaking eDNA sampling for species of conservation priority in waterbodies, to unlocking stories of Viking invasions and the Iceni revolt led by Boudicca. Rivers and sensitive habitats will be restored, with communities encouraged to value the area’s heritage and given skills to maintain it.
Following the widely acclaimed three-year Breaking New Ground HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme which focused on the Brecks’ heaths, forests and open spaces, the new initiative will aim to raise awareness of how water is fundamental to the story of the area’s landscape settlement and development, and its biodiversity.
Development funding of £151,000 for the new scheme is announced today by Suffolk County Council, which hosted Breaking New Ground, and the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership. The funding will help the council progress plans to apply for a full grant.
The council and the partnership said: “Conservation effort has long focused on the internationally important heaths and forests, but legacy development work from the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership identified significant risks and opportunities relating to this lesser-known watery landscape, which includes unique geology, the UK’s only six fluctuating meres and a significant percentage of nationally rare species.”
Breaking New Ground’s project manager Nick Dickson added: “Today’s news is incredibly exciting for the future of landscape scale conservation in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks.”
Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection, described the development funding as “wonderful news for the Brecks” and he looked forward to seeing the scheme take shape in its 18-month development period.
HLF’s head of landscape and natural heritage Drew Bennellick added: “Across the UK people are increasingly realising that nature is in trouble and it’s time to take a more proactive approach. Schemes like these provide a creative solution to helping people reconnect with landscapes and the environment, to implement solutions at a truly landscape-scale and tackle issues such as soil loss and flooding by supporting partnerships and coalitions of the willing.”
Mr Dickson will present further details on the new scheme at the free Breaking New Ground Celebration Conference on Saturday, November 18, at the Carnegie Rooms, Thetford. Booking information can be viewed at www.breakingnewground.org.uk/events
Where E stands for Edge
By a curious coincidence, the boundary of the proposed Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers scheme area forms a shape remarkably similar to a capital letter E.
The “E for Edge” outline has Stoke Ferry and South Pickenham at its northernmost points, and stretches westwards along the Wissey and Gadder chalk streams and the Thompson Stream to Stow Beddon.
The upright section of the E stretches south to Mildenhall, with the lower horizontal section following the River Lark to Fornham All Saints.
The central horizontal section of the imaginary letter follows the Little Ouse from Brandon to Knettishall, with spurs also following the River Thet from Thetford to Brettenham Heath and the Blackbourn from Euston to Honington.