Landscape and wildlife

The Broads is a special area with status equivalent to a National Park. It is important to work with the landscape on any riverbank stabilisation work and consider the effect on wildlife and the environment.

The stabilisation method should reflect and complement the character of the area, whether it is rural, urban, near a heritage site or part of a conservation area. Too many different solutions can also look visually confusing so you should take into account other nearby methods and how successful these have been.

You can get free advice from planning officers at the Broads Authority to see if your chosen method is suitable for that location.



Piling can cause issues for habitats and can create an urban feel to an otherwise rural area. It may also encourage unwanted mooring, can cause natural bank erosion and can be expensive. If the area has been piled but this is coming to the end of its lifetime you may wish to consider whether there is a continuing need for it or whether one of the recommended options on pages 6, 7, 8 and 9 would be more appropriate.

Stabilisation through planting

The restoration of a bank through the encouragement of appropriate vegetation is our main objective as it helps protect the unique Broads landscape and its biodiversity.

Wetland plants that create a natural bank edge provide protection from erosion, a host of benefits for wildlife and the landscape and enhance the local character. Active planting of recommended species helps bind the bank edge soils together and naturally buffers wave action.

Native water voles rely on naturally vegetated edges for feeding and protection from predators. Burrows in the banks are used for breeding, overwintering and protection.

Reeded margins provide important nesting areas for water birds including coot, moorhen and mallard. Sheltered bankside edges provide spawning and feeding areas for many types of fish in the Broads. Recommended species include common reed (Phragmites australis), bur-reeds (Sparganium emersum or Sparganium erectum), pond sedges (Carex riparia or Carex acutiformis) Lesser reedmace (Typha Angustifolia) and purple loosetrife (Lythrum salicaria).


The Broads is an internationally important wetland and home to more than a quarter of the UK’s rarest species.

The Broads supports internationally important wildlife and habitats. Within the Broads are the Broads Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Broadland Special Protection Area (SPA) and Broads Ramsar site. These sites are underpinned at a national level by 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) covering 24% of the executive area. You will need written consent from Natural England for any proposed works that may impact a protected site. In some cases an appropriate assessment may be required under the Habitat Regulations to demonstrate that there will be no adverse impacts on the integrity of the protected site.

Protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 may occupy the proposed site. These include otter, water vole, breeding birds and reptiles. Professional surveys should be carried out before works if there is a likelihood of their presence, and if you find a protected species during works, you must stop work immediately and contact Natural England.

Where bank protection options can enhance or create increased space for wildlife they should be explored.
Any impacts to fish spawning areas will also need to be considered as part of the proposal.
You can contact the Broads Authority ecologist for advice.


Trees are a complex issue. They can cause problems, shading and preventing the growth of natural vegetation such as reeds, which would otherwise help stabilise the bank. They could also be overhanging the bank or even falling into the water and they can block wind, affecting sailing on the Broads.

At the same time tree-lined waterways are part of the landscape character in some areas. Tree roots can also act as erosion protection and are valuable habitats in their own right. Some trees will also have protected status under a tree preservation order or be in a conservation area which protects them.

All these factors have to be considered and balanced in each case so it is best to contact our Tree Officer who can help with advice tailored to your situation.

Heritage and Archaeology

Heritage is a finite resource so care should be taken throughout the design process to ensure that the physical and visual impact on built heritage and archaeology is minimised.

The entire Broads is a site of exceptional waterlogged archaeology. This means there is potential for important discoveries during the course of carrying out work and you should be aware that archaeology may be uncovered. If planning permission is required it may be subject to an archaeological condition.

Early advice should be sought from the Authority. Consulting the relevant Histioric Environment record early in the process will indicate any known heritage assets and help assess the likelihood of potential archaeology.

Landscape Character Videos

To help bring the content of the Landscape Character Assessment alive for planners and other stakeholders, we have commissioned a series of five short videos that give an overview of the unique characteristics of the Broads landscape. The topics are; Introduction to the Broads, Open Water, Fen, Drained Marshes and Settlements.

You can view the first one below and visit our YouTube playlist to watch the other videos.