The remote and fragile southern tip of Orford Ness

The remote and fragile southern tip of Orford Ness

A precious coastal gem

Orford Ness National Nature Reserve is an internationally important site for nature conservation. It is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe and an important location for breeding and migrating birds. Coastal plants and other wildlife flourish on Orford Ness, including a large number of nationally scarce species.

Our plants and creatures, and where they live

  • Plants

    The Ness is home to a range of coastal plants, most of which are specialists at surviving in a hostile environment. Salt and the weather are the main problems, and many adapt to avoid the desiccating effect of both these environmental factors.

  • Animals

    A whole range of scarce and other more common creatures inhabit the Ness. While we manage for breeding wading birds in the marshes, the site is also home to brown hare, Chinese water deer and a whole host of insects and other invertebrates.

  • Habitats

    Different plants and animals like different conditions: soil, moisture, protection from the weather, salinity (saltiness). These environmental conditions and the landscape form common communities of plants and animals living together called habitats. There are a range of habitats on Orford Ness, most shaped by man. Exceptionally, the coastal shingle is in places in its truly wild state, very rare in England.

An unique geology

Underlying and supporting the fragile flora and fauna on the Ness is the spit's rare and dynamic geological structure. Of huge educational value, this less appreciated aspect is possibly its most important feature. Orford Ness is the only shingle structure to combine a coastal spit with a foreland point.