Fragile beauty of Orford Ness

Orford Ness has diverted a river, formed an estuary, created over 10 miles of coastline and over 2,000 acres of land. From the visitor trails you can see the rich and varied habitats that have developed on this internationally significant nature reserve and former military testing site and the wildlife that makes its home here.

Grazing marshes on airfield Orford Ness

Grazing marsh on Orford Ness 

The grazing marshes on Orford Ness were probably reclaimed from saltmarsh under royal patronage in the 13th century, and remained important to the local economy until recently.

Lagoons on Kings Marsh Orford Ness

The brackish lagoons of Kings Marsh on Orford Ness 

The brackish lagoons of Kings Marsh play a key role in the ecological significance of the site; the fluctuating salinity levels enables the area to support significant plants and animals.

Shingle ridges on Orford Ness

Coastal vegetated shingle and shingle heath on Orford Ness 

Orford Ness is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe, and therefore is a very important habitat nationally and globally. These habitats are extremely unstable and fragile environments.

Reed marshes on Orford Ness

Reed Marshes on Orford Ness 

Reed marshes are a rare habitat in the UK and many species of conservation concern depend fully or partly on these reed-beds.

Stony Ditch Orford Ness

Stony Ditch - salt-marsh and mud-flats on Orford Ness 

Stony Ditch is the tidal creek on Orford Ness which contains salt-marsh and mud-flat habitats. The mud-flats provide food with each tide for the many waders and wildfowl.

Lagoons on Kings Marsh Orford Ness

Management of the marshes on Orford Ness 

Maintenance of the marshes requires careful management of water levels and maintenance of river walls to keep out the tidal salt water. At the far northern end of the site (Lantern Marsh), tidal water has been allowed into the marsh to recreate salt-marsh habitat that is otherwise being lost in the estuary.