How to look after the Broads

The Norfolk Broads is now the UK's largest nationally protected wetland and the only one to be granted National Park status. Its rivers, broads (shallow lakes), marshes, woodlands and fens make it a unique area. Globally, wetlands are among the most threatened of landscapes and the Norfolk Broads are home to a wide variety of plant life, birds and animals and an important destination for naturalists. Ancient crafts such as reed cutting still take place here, harvesting Norfolk reeds for thatchers throughout the UK.

Like many areas of natural beauty it is exceptionally popular both with local people and the two million visitors who flock to the Broads every year.

Boating became fashionable in the late 18 century and more accessible with the advent of railways from the 1840s. Its popularity was further boosted by the publication of George Christopher Davies' The Handbook to the Rivers and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk in the 1880s.

But when sailing gave way to motor cruisers in the early 1920s, the banks began to suffer erosion from the wash. The water also became polluted from agricultural wash-off and sewage.

To enable today's visitors and future generations to enjoy the Broads, The Broads Authority was set up in 1989 and carries out vital work to manage the area including conservation, land and water management, planning, recreation and visitor services.

There are many ways to take pleasure in the Norfolk Broads with activities including sailing, motor-boating, rowing, canoeing, fishing, walking, sight-seeing and birdwatching. The Broads Authority is keen to promote 'quiet enjoyment' and sustainable tourism, so that the recreation we enjoy today does no lasting damage to the environment.

Here are some polite suggestions for ways to help look after the Broads while still having a great time.

Observe the speed limits on the water

All around the water you will see speed limits just as you would on the road ranging from 3-to-6mph in most areas. Travelling at a slower pace will not only decrease the wash and in turn reduce bank erosion, but will also enable you to appreciate the view so much more as you cruise by!

Try sailing

One of the most environmentally friendly ways of exploring The Broads is sailing. With a long history of sailing it is no surprise that it is a great place for sailing holidays, day hire or even learning to sail for the first time.

Hire an electric boat

While we are constantly searching for ways to be green on the road, why not do the same on the water. Instead of hiring a petrol or diesel motor boat, try an electric one instead. Not only are they more environmentally friendly, but they are also quieter and cause less disruption to the local wildlife.

Think tidy

Once you've moored up at one of the beautiful towns or villages for a picnic make sure you take all your rubbish away to dispose of. This will make the area a nicer place for everybody including the wildlife.

Follow designated paths

While some areas might look tempting it is important to stick to the footpaths especially if visiting a nature reserve. There are many routes to follow - just contact one of the tourist information centres for further details.

Help us maintain the Broads

The Broads is Britain's magical waterland but it needs constant care and attention to keep it as we know and love it and you can help make a big difference.

The Love the Broads initiative was set up by the Broads Trust, in partnership with local businesses and the Broads Authority, to raise money to care for the Broads. Businesses which are members of the scheme put a modest (and entirely voluntary) supplement on the cost of items such as the price of a cup of tea, a room, or the cost of hiring a bike or a boat.

The amount given this way by each customer may be very small, but a little from a lot of people adds up to a very worthwhile sum. Visitors can also choose to give directly to the scheme by text or using a QR code found on a range of promotional material found throughout the Broads.

The Broads Trust, an independent charity, administers the scheme and will use the money raised for projects that will protect and enhance the waterways, landscape and cultural heritage of the Broads.

Wildlife will benefit from conservation work, and education, way-marking and other improvements will help people to enjoy this special place.

Look out for the Love the Broads logo and please support the businesses which are involved and backing the Trust.

Visit to find out more about the scheme and the projects benefitting from your donations. You can donate now by texting NBCT01 followed by space followed by £ and the amount and send to 70070.

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