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Weather wreaks wildlife havoc

Breaking Earth News

Great Britain
Photo: Part-time ranger Tony West looks out over Barnby Broad.

FREAK WEATHER is threatening the unique habitat of the Norfolk Broads, experts warn - and it could prove catastrophic if it continues. The recent prolonged heavy rainfall means the water is as high today as it was at any time during the winter. And to compound the problems, the water level is also staying high for longer than in previous months. This has led to vital management work having to be abandoned by staff - leaving an uncertain future for plants, insects and animals. “If the flooding continues on our Broads reserves, it will have major implications on both the wildlife habitats and our ability to complete habitat management programmes. It could have quite a serious effect on invertebrates as well. Fen orchids and some other rare plants are under water when they don't expect to be. We certainly anticipate we will lose some. To lose any would be a disaster. It could change the wildlife we have in the Broads.” Mowing is vital for many flowering plant species, including orchids, and milk parsley for the caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies. Sedge that was cut last year is in danger of rotting as it is submerged under water, with the knock-on effect of now waiting five years instead of the normal four for the next crop. Other trust work has also been affected by the weather - the Flying Flock cannot be sheared yet as the fleeces are too wet. “The heavy downpours and the extremely high summer water levels will undoubtedly have affected the breeding success of many birds, small mammals and insects. But, in general, wildlife can cope with short-term perturbations in the weather and will only really be catastrophically affected if these heavy downpours through the summer become a pattern that repeats itself in the future.”

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