Suffolk Wildlife Trust has marked the completion of the most ambitious part of its vision to restore Knettishall Heath.
Purchasing the heath in 2012 represented the charity’s biggest land acquisition to date and a golden opportunity to restore the site to a landscape of open grazed heath and scattered trees – a habitat needed by so many unique Breckland species.
The most significant step towards achieving this goal has now been completed with the installation of cattle grids on roads running through the reserve and the removal of internal and roadside fencing.
It is the first time grids have been installed on a Suffolk road to support conservation grazing and the trust’s herd of Exmoor ponies are now free to roam across a largely fenceless heath.
To mark the milestone, on Friday William Kendall, the High Sheriff of Suffolk, symbolically cut one of the last remaining fences at a special ceremony on the reserve.
He was joined by local volunteers and representatives from WREN and the Heritage Lottery Fund which helped fund the project.
Julian Roughton, the trust’s chief executive, said: “This ceremony marks an important moment in our vision for Knettishall Heath and over the years we are sure that wildlife will respond to the changes that we have put in place.
“We are already seeing signs that ground-nesting birds are returning in greater numbers and one of our most ambitious aims for this project is to bring back nightjar as a breeding species.”