Covenhope Nature Reserve is a unique habitat creation and regeneration project on land that has been organic since 1997. In 2023, Make it Wild partnered with the current owner, to further support improvements in the biodiversity of the 16 acre (6 ha) site which has wooded areas, grassland, meadows, fruit trees and over a mile (1600m) of mature hedgerow.
The site is in a very rural area of Norfolk near the village of Hingham, west of Norwich. The land retains traditional small enclosures surrounded by hedging and was operated as a dairy farm until the turn of this century. The surrounding land is exclusively used for arable (crop) farming, which is the main type of agriculture in the area. Covenhope survived the agricultural advances that saw the removal of hedges to allow access to large machinery necessary for arable use.
Since September 2022, hundreds of trees have been planted, 1/8th mile of previously flailed hedges laid, dozens of wildlife boxes carefully sited, and the oldest and largest pond on site has been restored by clearing decades of organic matter and non degradable waste that became visible in the extended drought of summer 2022.
Natural England and the Norfolk Ponds Project created two new ponds as habitat for Great Crested Newts. In addition to the provision of wildlife boxes, a mosaic of natural habitats is being created. A conservation grazing crew improve and maintain grasslands, hedge growth and regeneration is achieved by traditional laying, and young trees planted will enlarge and connect the wooded areas.
This project is already improving resource availability for wildlife, and the site currently supports birds of prey, garden and farmland birds, amphibians and an array of mammals including several species of bat. The amphibian population has rocketed as a result of the conservation work on the now much deeper and drought resistant, long-established pond. A resounding frog chorus around the spring equinox in 2023, was followed, inevitably, by many thousands of tadpoles (or polywiggles as they are sometimes called in Norfolk!) which, in turn, are already helping other native species to thrive.
The pictures below show how the organic land at Covenhope has changed over the last twenty five years: from dairy farm in 1999, through permaculture based planting, to 2022 when management for the benefit of nature began.
We are delighted to offer dedications here, to extend our coverage in the south of the UK:
Would you like to sponsor a nest box to support our struggling woodland birds? Click here.
We are delighted to offer a totally unique dedication of English Longhorn cattle here.
Covenhope Reserve is not generally open to the public.
Quarterly open days will be held and are an opportunity to see your dedicated tree or pond and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature. Groups are welcome by prior arrangement. If you would like to bring a school or similar group, for bird watching, nature walk, volunteering or similar activity, please contact us. Parking is available.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new