Norfolk zoo awarded nearly £100k to help boost nature recovery in the county

Posted: 4th August, 2021

Banham Zoo, which is run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), has been awarded a £95,300 grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund to help boost nature recovery across Norfolk.


The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change and will enable the Norfolk Zoo to continue their commitment to vital conservation work.


The grant will provide Banham Zoo, with collaboration from the Norfolk Rivers Trust, the opportunity to build and on-site hatchery which will help restore and protect the population numbers of the endangered native White-clawed crayfish.


The White-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only native freshwater crayfish which has declining population numbers in the wild due to the pressures of habitat loss, pollution, crayfish plague and competition from invasive species such as the North American signal crayfish.


Sarah Lee, Living Collections Coordinator at the Zoological Society of East Anglia, said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to native species conservation, ZSEA are delighted to be awarded a grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.


“Sadly our native crayfish face local extinction throughout the county unless urgent action is taken. Over the next few months we will be building the on-site hatchery which will enable us to successfully rear and then release these endangered native freshwater invertebrates back into the wild with integral collaboration with the Norfolk Rivers Trust.”


There are a few populations of White-clawed crayfish persisting in small pockets of Norfolk’s rare chalk streams and the partnership between ZSEA and Norfolk Rivers Trust hopes to encourage populations to survive and increase, contributing to Norfolk’s incredible unique biodiversity.


Ursula Juta, Education and Catchment Manager at Norfolk Rivers Trust said: "Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Norfolk Crayfish Group are delighted to be working with Banham Zoo on this significant project. Norfolk tentatively remains a rare stronghold for the endangered, white-clawed crayfish, the UK’s only native crayfish, due to poor river accessibility and geographical isolation between river catchments.


We hope that the new breeding facility at the Zoo will inspire visitors to learn more about our native species and highlight the importance of biosecurity, while bolstering our local white-clawed crayfish populations.


We're working with a number of groups to protect and enhance our aquatic habitats for this species, and are always looking to identify new 'ark' sites, where new populations can be safely established, to safeguard their future in Norfolk until a solution for controlling signals can be found.” 


Ninety nature projects across England have been awarded grants from £68,100 to £1,950,000 to support 2,500 jobs backed by the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Work will be carried out on over 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall, and combined with the first round, almost a million trees will be planted, contributing towards the Government’s commitment to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.


The Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.


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