Report: The Wild Ken Hill rewilding project increases plant diversity

Ken Hill is wild

According to a report, a conservation initiative that hosted the BBC's The Watches has increased plant diversity.

According to the study, at Wild Ken Hill in west Norfolk, between 2019 and 2022, the average number of various plants in sampled areas nearly doubled.

At the 4,000-acre nature site in Snettisham, about 1,000 acres of subpar farmland and some woodland were "rewilded" in 2019.

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

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

The smooth cat's ear and other rare plants with conservation status had spread, and some types of scrub and trees were starting to naturally regenerate, it said.

Red poll cattle, Exmoor ponies, and Tamworth pigs were among the free-ranging livestock introduced as part of rewilding, according to Wild Ken Hill, which claimed responsibility for the improvements.

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

"There is a common misconception that rewilding is just about species reintroductions, afforestation, or bringing back specific species like beavers," project manager Dominic Buscall said.

However, the reality at Wild Ken Hill couldn't be more different.

"The entire suite of species, from plants and invertebrates to birds and mammals, is being benefited by the science-based, nature-led, and inexpensive restoration of the ecosystem from the ground up. ".

Hetty Grant, a conservation manager, continued, "The survey's findings are very exciting for wildlife. Consider Graeme's research demonstrating the rise in the variety and abundance of nectar sources.

"We are aware that improving invertebrate food sources in this way will have a positive ripple effect up the food chain, benefiting a wide variety of birds, bats, and other animals. ".

Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham
Wild Ken Hill was the location for The Watches, a television show hosted by Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham, from May 2021 to January 2023.

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

The BBC's The Watches (Springwatch, Autumnwatch, etc.) were based in Wild Ken Hill. May 2021 to January 2023 (inclusive).

In the summer heat wave of the previous year, it was also impacted by fires.

In March 2020, it was the first location in Norfolk to reintroduce beavers.

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