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01 April 2004 1405 BST
Graphic: A-Z of Science, B: The Broads
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The Broads are home to many rare plants and birds
The Broads is Britain's largest nationally protected wetland, and is home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the UK.

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Broads Authority

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Wetlands are among the most threatened of landscapes across the world. The Broads' rivers, broads (shallow lakes), marshes and fens make it an area where many rare plants and animals can live.

The Broads has up to 200km of waterways and over 40 broads which range in size from small streams to big lakes like Hickling Broad.

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They are managed by the Broads Authority who look after its conservation whilst making sure people can still use the rivers and lakes for recreation.

The Broads Authority is keen to promote environmentally friendly boating.

Solar powered boats

The 'Ra' is Britain's first passenger-carrying solar-powered boat. Designed and built in Germany and named after the Egyptian sun god, she travels silently on the Broads.

Costing £55,000, the boat's maiden voyage was in September 2000. The futuristic 30ft, 12-seater boat is powered by three rows of seven solar panels.

The boat gives high-tech eco-trips round the National Nature Reserve of Barton Broad, the second largest of the Broads.

In 2003 more than 2000 passengers enjoyed a ride on the RA

The trips run from Gay's Staithe, opposite the Barton Angler Country Inn at Neatishead from April until October.

You can find out more about the RA at the Potter Heigham Broads information centre on 01692 670779.

Recommended reading
By Sheila McKeown, a librarian at the Millennium Library in Norwich.

The Broads, a Book for the Young by Jason Crick. Jason Crick 2003.

Rivers and Lakes by Simon Holland. Dorling Kindersley 2003. ISBN 0751339466.

You can get hold of these books through your local library.

 

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