Mousehold Heath highlighted for biodiversity in national study

Mousehold Heath.

Mousehold Heath. - Credit: Archant

Mousehold Heath has been recognised for its importance for leisure use, wellbeing and biodiversity value in a country-wide study.

The research, led by Newcastle University, shared the importance of ‘urban commons’, using Norwich's Mousehold Heath as a case study.

The three-year project looked at the history of the heath as well as Clifton and Durdham Downs in Bristol, Newcastle’s Town Moor and Valley Gardens in Brighton.

Project lead Professor Chris Rodgers said: "The people of Norwich are very lucky to have Mousehold Heath as a major area of recreational green space near the centre of the city.

A winter sunset at Mousehold Heath in Norwich

A winter sunset at Mousehold Heath in Norwich - Credit: Danielle Booden

"Many other major urban areas across England and Wales are not as fortunate and lack large accessible areas of public open space with legal protection against development.

"Our research has highlighted the importance of these places to local people for all sorts of reasons – including health and wellbeing.

"It also emphasised a need to ensure their enduring protection and use as a community cultural and ecological resource for the future."

Frogspawn in Mousehold Heath

Frogspawn in Mousehold Heath - Credit: Bob Pike

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Until the early 1800s, Mousehold Heath was used by local people collecting fuel and feed for livestock.

Over hundreds of years the use of the land has changed, and is now popular for recreation.

Green councillor Lucy Galvin sits on the Mousehold Heath Conservators committee.

Green Party city councillor Lucy Galvin

City councillor Lucy Galvin. - Credit: Contributed

She said: "Mousehold Heath is a historic and important natural piece of heritage for the city. 

"I really love the woodland and the way you can find hidden ponds and paths. You can lose yourself in a very pleasant way.

"And the little bit of heathland - it's an extremely rare habitat. You find species there that are threatened and wouldn't find anywhere else.

Woodland walks in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Woodland walks on Mousehold Heath. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

"We're incredibly lucky. Once you discover it, there's nowhere quite like it."

Fellow Green councillor Gary Champion, also a member of the Mousehold Heath Conservators, added: "I can't emphasise how important the heath is. The rangers continually amaze me with their extensive knowledge.

Gary Champion, city councillor for Sewell Ward.

Gary Champion, city councillor for Sewell Ward. - Credit: Gary Champion

"It's really important to protect it from fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour. There have been incidents of drug dealing, and the police has worked hard to tackle the issue.

"The space is - and should be - respected."

A winter sunset at Mousehold Heath in Norwich

Mousehold Heath boasts one of the best views of Norwich. Have you ever visited at sunset? - Credit: Danielle Booden