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Parkland restoration project at Oxburgh Estate

The grassy parkland at Oxburgh Estate, Norfolk
Oxburgh Estate's parkland | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Thanks to funding from Natural England, Historic England and the generosity of National Trust members and supporters, we’ve been able to embark on an exciting 10-year parkland restoration project. Discover how we're restoring part of the Grade II-listed landscape at Oxburgh to a species rich, native wood pasture that will attract more wildlife and increase biodiversity.

Restoring a historic parkland habitat

The historic estate at Oxburgh once stretched over nearly 3,000 acres including arable farmland, villages and over 400 acres of parkland habitat. By the time Oxburgh Estate was saved from demolition in 1951 and given to the National Trust, much of its vast estate had been sold off.

But in 2017 we were able to acquire 125 acres and today we’re working to restore 175 acres of the original 400 acres of historic parkland habitat.

Uncovering the parkland’s past

The land, which was used for arable farming for over 70 years, was left fallow while we conducted research. Using an Ordnance Survey map from 1904, the team has been able to research how the landscape looked when it was at its peak.

Fortunately, we have the 1951 sales details for the trees sold at auction (to be cut for timber) and we’re using this to identify the individual locations and suitable species of trees to replant.

Support for the project

Wood pasture and parkland is a rare and threatened habitat. It’s been in decline since the 1950s due to the repurposing of land to help feed the nation after the Second World War.

Although we’re moving to a type of farming that's more aligned with creating woodland pasture, we’ve received incredible support from neighbouring farms, the former landowners, tenant graziers and our partners to restore this rare and vital landscape.

‘It’s humbling and a privilege to be part of a restoration which will still be in its infancy in my lifetime, knowing it will benefit people and nature for centuries to come.’

– Russell Clement, General Manager at Oxburgh Estate

How the project will benefit nature

Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus)
Barbastelle bat | © National Trust Images/Bat Conservation Trust/Hugh Clark

Bats and moths

The parkland project will benefit a range of wildlife, from deadwood-loving insects such as the nationally scarce hornet moth to woodland birds such as the lesser spotted woodpecker. Once fully matured, the wood pasture will also create new roosting sites for bats such as the brown long-eared bat and the barbastelle.

1 of 3

Phase one

We’ve started the first phase of the project to restore this landscape. During 2021 and 2022, we’ve planted 227 specimen trees, including oak, white willow and the rare black poplar. This will help to recreate the look of the original parkland and will grow alongside the 10 ancient trees that remain in the landscape.

We will also be recreating ponds and planting areas of scrub and lowland meadows to create a resilient habitat that will endure for centuries to come.

We’ll be opening up access so that visitors can explore the wider estate. Look out for new pathways when you visit and speak to our friendly Welcome Team who will be happy to let you know where you can explore.

Visitors by the river at Oxburgh Estate, Norfolk


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Our partners

Natural England

Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England. They help to protect and restore our natural world.

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Historic England

The public body that looks after England's historic environment.

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