SPA description
(information as published 2001)


image: SPA location map 


The Breckland of Norfolk and Suffolk lies in the heart of East Anglia on largely sandy soils of glacial origin. In the 19th century the area was termed a sandy waste, with small patches of arable cultivation that were soon abandoned. The continental climate, with low rainfall and free-draining soils, has led to the development of dry heath and grassland communities. Much of Breckland was planted with conifers through the 20th century, and elsewhere arable farming is the predominant land use. The remnants of dry heath and grassland that have survived these changes support heathland-breeding birds, where grazing by sheep and rabbits is sufficiently intensive to create short turf and open ground. These species have also adapted to live in forestry and arable habitats. Woodlark Lullula arborea and Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus breed in recently felled areas and open heath areas within the conifer plantations, while Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus establishes nests on open ground provided by arable cultivation in the spring. 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
During the breeding season;
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, 415 pairs representing up to 12.2% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count at at 1998)
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, 142 pairs representing up to 74.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1998)
Woodlark Lullula arborea, 430 pairs representing up to 28.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1997)



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