Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Shifting Sands

Securing a future for the Brecks

The Brecks covers
sq km
It is home to
of the UK's Stone Curlews
species live in the Brecks

What is the habitat for Shifting Sands?

The Brecks straddles the Norfolk and Suffolk border. It is one of the most unusual landscapes in lowland England, with vast conifer plantations and large arable fields edged with lines of crooked pines. It developed from an ancient landscape of sandy, chalky soils, wide open heaths, sheep walks, medieval rabbit warrens and shallow river valleys. This is one of the most important areas for wildlife in the UK, including birds such as the Stone Curlew, Nightjar and Woodlark.

Why is this habitat at risk?

Like many semi-natural areas in this country, the shifting sands of the Brecks and its special wildlife are under threat. During the 20th century, an estimated 76% of its heaths and grasslands were converted into cropland and commercial forests. The remaining heaths are fragmented and require ongoing management to guarantee the open, nutrient-poor conditions required by so many Breckland species.

What will the Shifting Sands project aim to achieve?

This Back from the Brink project, led by Natural England, will restore and create a mosaic of habitats for the Brecks’ rarest wildlife. The Project should benefit four habitats and 16 key species directly, with another 16 species expected to benefit. We will extend and connect the forest corridor network to encourage and reintroduce rare plants, and link it to patches of heathland. The heaths were, for hundreds of years, home to lots of rabbits – great habitat managers, which are now in sharp decline. We aim to boost rabbit populations on these heaths so that rare plants and their associated insects can recolonise the more open, rabbit-disturbed ground. We will also recruit an army of volunteers to survey and monitor the area for rare plants such as Field Wormwood and the Tiny Prostrate Perennial Knawel, supporting these volunteers with advice and guidance.

What we’re aiming for

By the end of the project, we aim to have measurably improved the conservation status of many of the Brecks’ iconic wildlife species, some of them among the rarest and most threatened in the UK.

How to get involved

Can you help us by getting involved with surveys or community outreach events? Find out more at our talks, walks and events.

You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.



Project contact

Pip Mountjoy

Project Manager

Jayden Endean

Keystone Species Officer


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Norwich Science Festival

& 22nd October, Norwich
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Bringing them Back From The Brink

We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

Project lead

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