Man-made gem

Fo­cus on the na­tional trea­sure in our home county

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

FROM THE AIR the Norfolk Broads is a com­plex lace­work, with strands of rivers and trib­u­taries cre­at­ing me­an­der­ing pat­terns in­ter­cepted by the oc­ca­sional blots of wild ex­panses of wa­ter.

But the Broads not only shapes our land­scape, it is sym­bolic of the county’s in­dus­trial and agri­cul­tural her­itage, is an in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant haven for wildlife and is key to tourism and the lo­cal econ­omy, in the past, pre­sent and fu­ture.

It is Bri­tain’s largest pro­tected wet­land and the third largest in­land wa­ter­way. It is also home to more than a quar­ter of the rarest plants and an­i­mals in the UK.

So as the weather warms, it is the per­fect time to ex­plore the rivers and broads, the na­ture re­serves and towns and vil­lages which make up this Na­tional Park.

The an­nual Broads Out­door Fes­ti­val which runs for three weeks, start­ing on April 30 with the fan­tas­tic Tour De Broads cy­cling event, is a great way to try some­thing dif­fer­ent and dis­cover new places and ac­tiv­i­ties.

From the bustling hubs and pop­u­lar hotspots, such as Wrox­ham, Stal­ham and Horn­ing, which are burst­ing with ameni­ties, boats chug­ging along the rivers and throngs of visi­tors, to se­cluded, un­spoilt cor­ners home to rare species of in­sects and birds, ac­ces­si­ble only on foot or by ca­noe, it is a huge area which of­fers some­thing for ev­ery­one.

AWAY FROM the bustling, well-sailed wa­ter­ways of its bet­ter known neigh­bours, the Trin­ity Broads are a tran­quil, idyl­lic part of Norfolk’s land­scape with crys­tal clear wa­ters and a ro­bustly pro­tected ecosys­tem.

Cov­er­ing 14% of the to­tal Broads open wa­ter sys­tem, this vast area is iso­lated from the main river cre­at­ing a very unique en­vi­ron­ment and there are strict lim­its on which ves­sels can take to the wa­ter. But it is this care­ful man­age­ment and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment which makes it such a mag­i­cal, spe­cial place to ex­plore.

“It is a very peace­ful, quiet site and there are very im­por­tant lim­its on who can take out boats onto the wa­ter and what type of boats they are,” says Norfolk Wildlife Trust war­den Eil­ish Roth­ney. “We have fish­ing and view­ing plat­forms and the temp­ta­tion can be to drop in a ca­noe or pad­dle­board but even these pose a risk. If peo­ple bring their own ves­sels to put in, there is a huge chance of cross con­tam­i­na­tion and the in­tro­duc­tion of in­va­sive species, which, thanks to our rather unique ecosys­tem, we are free from. For ex­am­ple we are clear of the killer shrimp which can plague the Broads and causes se­ri­ous eco­log­i­cal prob­lems.”

Trin­ity com­prises of Ormesby, Rollesby, Filby, Lily and Ormesby Lit­tle Broads and de­spite the care­ful man­age­ment there are plenty of ways to en­joy this beau­ti­ful spot, with boat trips and dinghy hire avail­able, board­walks, fish­ing and pic­nic spots, sail­ing clubs and plen­ti­ful na­ture.

But, says Eil­ish, it is es­sen­tial to en­sure ev­ery­one un­der­stands why cer­tain rules are in place and to show them the ben­e­fits of pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Trin­ity Broads Part­ner­ship, which in­cludes the Broads Author­ity, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Es­sex and Suffolk Wa­ter, Nat­u­ral Eng­land and the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, works to safe­guard and en­hance the Trin­ity Broads, care­fully man­ag­ing bio­di­ver­sity, wa­ter qual­ity, recre­ation and the needs of the com­mu­nity. As well as be­ing a key con­ser­va­tion site, it also pro­vides a wa­ter sup­ply to thou­sands of homes in Yar­mouth.

“We try very hard to in­volve ev­ery­one who has an in­ter­est in Trin­ity Broads – and we have reg­u­lar con­sul­ta­tions with ev­ery­one from landown­ers and par­ish coun­cilors, to fish­er­man, con­ser­va­tion­ists and those liv­ing in the vil­lages around the Broads. I think peo­ple are more in­vested in the area and in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing it than they were 20 years ago. I hope by in­volv­ing the wider com­mu­nity and en­sur­ing their voices are heard, it means they are more likely to sup­port and un­der­stand what we are do­ing, and of course they can see

the ben­e­fits,” she says.

“We have a lot of peo­ple fish­ing here and they are very good. They have to ei­ther thor­oughly wash all of their gear or have some they use specif­i­cally for Trin­ity. They also want to keep the eco-sys­tem healthy as it is es­sen­tial to re­tain the species which live there. If we don’t all look af­ter it and some­thing hap­pens to even one part of the food chain, it has a huge knock on ef­fect.”

She says that be­cause the Trin­ity Broads are iso­lated from the main river sys­tem, it helps pro­tect the bio­di­ver­sity of the area and it is one of the rea­sons the wa­ter re­mains so clear.

“There is no move­ment between the Trin­ity broads, the river and the other main broads sys­tem. Be­cause of the way it is de­signed, wa­ter is ex­it­ing the sys­tem but wa­ter can’t come back up into it. This gives us pro­tec­tion from ex­ces­sive wa­ter nu­tri­ents and fer­tilis­ers, which means that for at least nine months of the year we have the most mag­i­cal, crys­tal clear wa­ters.”

There is boun­ti­ful wildlife in and around the Trin­ity Broads, in­clud­ing rare in­sects, stands of bul­rushes and the elu­sive bit­tern and, thanks to care­ful habi­tat man­age­ment, there are healthy fish, in­ver­te­brates and aquatic plant pop­u­la­tions.

“All aquatic plants need sun­light to thrive and if the wa­ter is too full of nu­tri­ents it makes the wa­ter murky and the sun­light can’t reach them. That was ex­actly what state the Trin­ity Broads were in 22 years ago.”

A scheme to re­move fish from Ormesby Broad in 1995 trans­formed the wa­ter­ways from al­gae-filled murky wa­ters with very lit­tle wildlife into clear wa­ter teem­ing with plants, fish and in­ver­te­brates.

“There were so many fish in the sys­tem they were eat­ing all the wa­ter fleas, which are nec­es­sary to eat the al­gae. So as soon as the num­ber of small fish be­gan to re­duce, the wa­ter fleas be­gan to grow in num­bers. It was amaz­ing; within four months it was start­ing to clear the wa­ter and it led to the healthy and bal­anced en­vi­ron­ment for plants, fish and in­ver­te­brates which we have to­day.”

Above: An aerial pho­to­graph of theTrin­ity Broads. Photography from the Trin­ity Broads Project

Lilies on the Lily Broad

A sail­ing boat on the River Bure near Horn­ing

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