In this part of the county there’s very little wetland – so one local patch is looked after by the council’s countryside management service to ensure that this important habitat is preserved.
That means stopping trees encroaching, sucking all the water out of it and broadcasting it into the atmosphere, thus drying out the ground so more trees can encroach and form wetland carr or wet woodland. If you want an object lesson in this happening, visit the Norfolk Broads.
It also means reed-cutting in two fair-sized reed beds. This is done so that the dead vegetation doesn’t accrue on the ground and dry it out, allowing nutrient-rich soil to form.
This is fairly heavy work, and a task that is at least partly carried out with the help of volunteers. Sections of the reed bed are mowed and then the reeds raked up with wooden rakes reminiscent of a Constable painting before being heaped up in sacrificial areas.
It’s not the most popular task because it is exhausting. But with the hard work comes the intense satisfaction of doing something really worthwhile that makes a difference to the local area.
It’s also the last conservation task to take place before the growing season begins, which was another reason for making sure we turned up.