Behind the scenes on Orford Ness

Volunteers clearing gorse on Orford Ness

Keeping Orford Ness special is a major task. Different areas need different management approaches, and we work hard to allow visitors to enjoy the site safely in ways that preserve the character of the landscape and protect the wildlife. And there's also the sheep to look after.

 

Repairs and maintenance

The Ness is very exposed so buildings and equipment need lots of maintenance. Vehicles are 'winterised' and given protective wax coats each year, buildings made frost proof and come spring redecoration is done.
 
Winter storms mean patrols of the beach to check for erosion and uncovered ordnance. The fragile shingle habitat requires protection from disturbance; even walking on it causes irreparable damage. Winter flooding can cause damage to access tracks and any major repairs to these or buildings are carried out in the winter.
 

Monitoring and recording

Surveying and recording the habitats and wildlife are the first steps in conserving their future. We have skilled and knowledgeable volunteers and staff who survey the wildlife. Every weekend volunteers from the Landguard Bird Observatory arrive to catch, ring and record the birds on site, and also set the moth trap overnight to record the species found come the morning.
 
Each year detailed survey work is undertaken in the Lantern Marsh to monitor regeneration of the salt marsh. Even our seaweed has been surveyed.
 
Water levels are monitored carefully on the marshes to provide feeding areas for wading birds. Sheep graze these areas to provide the variation in grass height that the birds need to nest.
 
To the north of the site fluctuations in the gull colony are monitored and a major project to regenerate salt marsh, a habitat that is shrinking elsewhere in the estuary continues.
 

Looking after the sheep

The National Trust has its own shepherd who looks after a flock of 100 sheep on the Suffolk coast. Life is anything but quiet for Andrew Capell and his sheepdog Kite. Read more about Andrew and his sheep.

Discovering and learning

The Ness still holds many secrets. Discovering and sharing them is an ongoing task. We are still learning much about the site, particularly from those who worked here or had family who did. We make ourselves available to anyone with something to add to our archive of stories and materials.
 
We still receive materials, including original artefacts and documents to add to our archive, some of which are used in new displays. New objects often come to light on site.
 
An ongoing effort in collecting stories and research allows us to tell you ever more about the human history of the Ness.
 

Press, television and film

From films to magazines, TV to radio, there's a lot to tell and many who want to see and hear.The Ness is a fascinating place, and we work with local radio and television news, providing access for filming, giving interviews, and checking press articles. We often receive enquiries about filming for television drama and even feature films, and can be kept busy looking after presenters, actors and crew while on site.
 
There’s also the usual publicity work, including updating our webpages.
 

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Gauge board airfield site

LIFE projects on Orford Ness 

Major projects have been undertaken to improve the environment on Orford Ness for wildlife and visitors.