Who we are: what we do

Norfolk’s countryside and wildlife have changed drastically since the Victorian era. Woodland, wetland, meadows, heathland and hedgerows have disappeared and with them have gone birds, mammals, plants, and insects. But, as habitats have changed, other species have moved in and some species that had vanished because of persecution or, more recently, pollution have returned.

The changes have seldom been dramatic. They have often been slow, almost imperceptible. So how do we know what has happened? For well over a century members of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society have been keeping records of “what’s about”, to borrow a birding phrase.

The Society is the county’s oldest natural history organisation, founded in 1869. Ever since, its members have been studying and publishing information about the state of Norfolk’s wildlife. The Society’s Transactions have appeared every year since 1870. The Norfolk Bird Report – later to become the Bird and Mammal Report – made its debut in 1954. Many other papers on specific subjects have been published over the years.

These records enable the Society to play an important rôle in helping to protect Norfolk’s wildlife by making authoritative scientific information available to those responsible for our environment. This process continues and it provided the inspiration for the Society’s WILDLIFE 2000 project.

The WILDLIFE 2000 project has generated Society publications on Plant Galls, the Grasshoppers of Norfolk, and the Dragonflies of Norfolk. Articles in Transactions have featured marine and freshwater molluscs, bumblebees and various other insect groups.

Thanks to the generosity of the Society’s Millennium year president, Mr Tim Peet, the Society has also been able to contribute to the costs of A Flora of Norfolk (Beckett et al), The Birds of Norfolk (Seago et al) and the Millennium Atlas of Norfolk Butterflies (Norfolk branch Butterfly Conservation Society).

You can play a valuable part in this process by contributing records of your own observations or supporting this work by joining the Society.

You do not need to be an expert. An interest in the natural world is enough, and you can foster and develop that interest by taking part in our programme of meetings and field trips.

Among the Society’s members are eminent experts in a variety of fields but the newcomer need not be deterred or overawed. It is one of the great strengths of the Society that these experts are more than willing to share their knowledge with those who seek to learn.

Our presidents

Each year, a distinguished naturalist is invited to be president of the Society. Among recent presidents have been Professor David Bellamy, the conservationist Lord Walpole of Wolterton, the Flora Britannica author Richard Mabey, and the Birds Britannica author Mark Cocker.