Situated on the southern outskirts of Norwich, Marston Marsh, a Local Nature Reserve, is a flood plain marsh consisting of an area of approximately 60 acres. The river Yare borders its northern side and Marston Lane its southern side, providing the main access to the site. It is owned by the Norwich City Council and managed by the Norwich Fringe Project under the Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS) and the County Wildlife Site (CWS 1459) agreements.
When the Fringe Project took on the site in 2009, there was no management plan in place, grazing cattle on the marsh roamed everywhere, the ditch system was not working when the River Yare flooded and grassland communities had declined.
Steps were taken whereby a management and work plan was produced; public consultations were carried out to engage with and involve the local community; a new cattle grazing regime was installed along with the creation of four paddocks for rotational grazing; ditches where dug out and a new water control system installed to enable higher water levels in winter (for wader, water fowl) and lower levels in the summer months; new fencing was installed and the newly dug ditches used as wet fences. A full Phase 1 National Vegetation Survey was carried out to understand the existing plant biodiversity and funding was secured from the Big Lottery Fund through the Eaton Residents Association whereby a hard surface access path was constructed for the public, to walk around and through the site.
Through our efforts we have seen an increase in community involvement and ownership of the site; vandalism has been reduced; local people have become the eyes and ears of the sites’ management plan and there has been an increase in the wildlife and plant biodiversity of the site.