The Broads, the magical waterland
The Broads is Britain's largest nationally protected wetland.
Its rivers, broads (shallow lakes), marshes and fens make it a unique area, rich in rare habitats, which support myriad plants and animals. Globally, wetlands are among the most threatened of landscapes.
The Broads is also one of Europe's most popular inland waterways. Once an essential transport network, today the waterways are used for recreation.
The Broads has special status - it is one of the national and international family of national parks - for its blend of wildlife, distinctive landscapes and buildings, and the opportunities for people to relax and enjoy themselves both on land and on many kilometres of lock-free navigable waterways. The area is managed by the Broads Authority.
Broads Facts and Figures
Broads area: 303 sq km in east Norfolk and north Suffolk
Rivers and broads: six rivers (Bure, Ant, Thurne, Yare, Chet and Waveney) and 63 broads
Navigable waterways: over 125 miles (200 km). Most of the broads are privately owned, but there is a public right of navigation on the areas known as navigable waterways.
Numbers of boats licensed in 2009: 1,496 (hire craft); 10,835 (private craft)
Land ownership: 77% of land in the Broads is privately owned; the Broads Authority owns the How Hill National Nature Reserve
Conservation sites: there are 28 sites of special scientific interest (many of these sites are also national and local nature reserves). Most of the SSSI network is also designated as internationally important for nature conservation under the European Habitats and Birds Directives, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
Population: 6,400 approx
Visitors: 7 million approx per year
Broads Authority: established 1989; finance comes from national park grant (from central government) and navigation tolls