Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Little gems: Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs)

Roger Jones, Norfolk Wildlife Trust Volunteer Surveyor puts the spotlight on some special but often overlooked and special places for nature.

Meadow saxifrage at the roadside. David North
There is a little known, and underloved, set of nature reserves in Norfolk. There may be one on a roadside near you. Yes, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, along with Norfolk County Council, has recognised a whole series of Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs). However, they are under publicised, though they support many interesting wild flowers. 

Whilst the rest of you whizz by at 70mph (OK 30mph – this is Norfolk) I have long harboured an affection for some of them. My interest was kindled around 25 years ago when the marker posts appeared outside a local supermarket. Over the years I have been visiting several which have particular specialities. This summer my wife Jenny and I set out on a semi-organised survey of RNRs. We’ve found pepper saxifrage, stone parsley, 500+ common spotted orchids (yes, on one verge!), knapweed broomrape, spiny restharrow (ouch!), danewort, sheepsbit and many more fascination and uncommon wild flowers.

On one of the survey days I became troubled by what I saw just outside Taverham on the A1067. A sign advertising the works for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) had been neatly placed right over the RNR marker post. After contacting Norfolk County Council to find out the fate of this RNR I was informed that it was (as I suspected) due to be lost by the NDR works. However, the County Council already made great efforts to collect seed from this RNR last summer, and this will be used to establish a new grassland verge in the vicinity in 2017, which should hopefully be larger than what will be lost.

Pyramidal orchids by Roger Jones

In total we surveyed 40 of the 111 Roadside Nature Reserves in the county. We hope to carry on exploring and surveying our road verges next year! 

To find out if you have a roadside nature reserve near you, please contact Norfolk Wildlife Trust or simply look out for the distinctive roadside markers when you are driving in Norfolk.  

To view list of the RNRs in Norfolk please visit the NBIS website: 

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