£1.6 million project to help revive a Norfolk river
Otter sightings are on the rise at Oxburgh Hall and there's more good news on the way, as we are about to embark on our biggest river restoration project to date.
River improvement work is continuing to benefit wildlife at Oxburgh Hall, with regular sightings of otters now being recorded on the estate. The resurgence of the otter, which is top of the food chain in river environments, is seen as an indicator that a river is at its healthiest.
Back in 2013, staff at Oxburgh Hall observed water levels noticeably dropping in the moat and work began to repair the leaks. The work involved repairs to the brick weir and sluice that were located in the River Gadder. Whilst the team readdressed the Victorian engineering, they also removed 1,000 cubic metres of silt from the river bed.
Helen Gregory, the National Trust’s Outdoor Manager at Oxburgh Hall said: “The reduction in silt has resulted in higher water levels, making it easier for otters to swim along this stretch of river. It’s fantastic to have had so many more sightings this year, as otters are a sign of a healthy wetland ecosystem.
“In England, the otter disappeared dramatically between the 1950s and 1970s. Although there are historic records of otters on the estate, this year we’ve had far more sightings of what we believe to be a mother and two cubs. They’ve even been spotted in the moat!”
The news comes as the National Trust, working with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have launched its most ambitious waterways restoration project yet.
£10million is to be spent on reviving five more of the UK’s most precious rivers, including £1.6million on the chalk stream habitats of the Upper Bure in Norfolk, which runs through the Blickling and Felbrigg estates.
Currently, only 14% of England’s river catchments are in good health and we want to start reversing this alarming trend through our "Riverlands" project. Work on the ground at the five countrywide locations will include habitat restoration work and the creation of better paths and walking routes to make waterways more available for a wider range of people.
Announcing the Riverlands project, National Trust Director General Hilary McGrady said: ‘Working together with local communities, the project recognises that when cherished, healthy rivers are important not just environmentally but culturally and socially – they help define places, bring people together and benefit us all.’