Open meeting to discuss Whitwell Common proposals

An open meeting to discuss future plans for Whitwell Common will be held in St Michael’s, Reepham, on Saturday 9 March from 10.30 am – 12.30 pm.
The event will provide the opportunity to talk about the management proposals with the trustees, together with a representative from Natural England and ecologists from Norfolk County Council, which are involved in the management of this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Whitwell Common is one of the last remaining fragments of spring-fed valley fen in Norfolk and is highly valued for its rare and interesting flora as well as a wide range of habitats, which attract a large number of mammals, birds and invertebrates. The trustees are keen to provide the careful management required to conserve and protect this precious site for the benefit of all.

Whitwell Common is one of the last remaining fragments of spring-fed valley fen in Norfolk. Photo: © Chris Wheeler

In recent years the most species-rich area of the fen (the southern portion) has been mowed every year in late summer after the flowering season, and the cuttings removed to prevent soil enrichment. This prevents scrub encroachment, but it is expensive and does not encourage the range of herbage heights that is important for wildlife.
Further, the present funding scheme for the mowing will cease in 2018. The alternative is to revert to the original method of vegetation control, i.e. grazing. This is now a frequent choice for maintaining these types of habitats, but requires fencing of the area to be grazed.
Natural England and Norfolk CC both recommend this method as a long-term sustainable approach and the trustees are keen to support them. There would be no reduction to the current pedestrian access to the common, which would ensure the common remains a local resource for all to enjoy.
Fencing common land requires permission from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and involves submitting a lengthy and detailed application.
Before embarking on this process, the trustees would like to discuss these plans with all parties interested in the common at the open meeting on 9 March. We look forward to seeing you there; alternatively, please contact any of us via email:
Tony Foottit (chairman)
Julia Kemp
Lin Garland
Daphne Ludgate
Mike Hawtry-Eastwood