Report: The rewilding of Wild Ken Hill increases plant diversity

Crazy Ken Hill

Plant diversity has increased, according to a report, thanks to a conservation initiative that hosted the BBC's The Watches.

At Wild Ken Hill in west Norfolk, the study found that between 2019 and 2022, the average number of unique plants in sampled areas nearly doubled.

2019 saw the "rewilding" of about 1,000 acres of subpar farmland and some woodland at the 4,000-acre nature site in Snettisham.

The survey's findings were "exciting" for wildlife, according to the project's leaders.

Ecologist Graeme Lyons conducted a vegetation survey in 2019 and 2022, and the results show that the average number of plants in sampled plots nearly doubled, from 16 point 8 to 33 point 2.

It claimed that several endangered plants, such as smooth cat's ear, had spread and that certain scrub and tree species were starting to naturally regenerate.

According to Wild Ken Hill, the improvements are attributable to rewilding, particularly the introduction of red poll cattle, Exmoor ponies, and Tamworth pigs as free-ranging livestock.

Smooth Cat's-ear
According to a study by Graeme Lyons, a number of endangered plants, such as smooth cat's ear, have spread.

There is a widespread misconception that rewilding only involves reintroducing species, planting trees, or reintroducing particular species, like beavers, according to project manager Dominic Buscall.

But at Wild Ken Hill, the reality is completely different.

"The entire range of species, from plants and invertebrates to birds and mammals, are benefited as the very fabric of the ecosystem is being restored from the ground up in a science-based, nature-led, and inexpensive manner. ".

"The results from the survey are very exciting for wildlife," continued conservation manager Hetty Grant. Consider Graeme's research demonstrating the expansion of nectar sources' variety and quantity.

"We are aware that improving the food supply for invertebrates in this way will have favorable spillover effects up and down the food chain, benefiting a wide variety of birds, bats, and other animals. ".

Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham
From May 2021 to January 2023, Wild Ken Hill served as the location for The Watches, hosted by Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham.

According to Mr. Lyons, the "standardized and repeatable survey" was crucial for "generating meaningful data" that would help both Wild Ken Hill and the rewilding movement as a whole.

The Watches (Springwatch, Autumnwatch, etc.) of the BBC were broadcast from Wild Ken Hill. between May 2021 and January 2023.

During the summer heat wave of the previous year, fires also affected it.

In March 2020, it was Norfolk's first site to reintroduce beavers.

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