A pond restoration in the Wensum valley has sparked an "amazing" nature revival - with hopes the project could become a template for new government funding policies.
The pond at Brisley Common, between Dereham and Fakenham, is thought to be an old marl pit which was used as a water source for cattle and horses.
But over the decades it became overgrown with dense vegetation and deprived of sunlight, with the banks also damaged by severe "poaching" by grazing cattle.
So a restoration was designed by Lizzie Emmett, advisor to the Wensum Farmers group, which coordinates the conservation efforts of landowners across the protected river valley.
"The pond is listed on the 1800s map, so it had a historic use, but it has become overgrown with willow and blackthorn and bramble," she said. "It was getting suffocated, so there was very little light coming in.
"All the leaves and branches have fallen down over the years to create this sludge, like a compost, which you do not want in an area where you are trying to get more aquatic life."
In summer 2022, contractors cleared trees and scrub with a chainsaw, and used a digger to scrape back the silt to expose the original pond base - letting in sunlight, and reviving dormant plant seeds in the banks. The work took two days and cost about £700.
A year later, the water is fringed by plants including rare stonewort, broad-leaved pondweed, water-crowfoot, water-plantain and duckweed.
Emperor and ruddy darter dragonflies have been spotted, and the pond is expected to be colonised by the common's population of great crested newts.
The project was designed as a "test and trial" for Defra's new environmental incentives which are being developed to replace the EU farming subsidies being phased out after Brexit.
"Within government payment schemes, ponds are really undervalued, said Ms Emmett.
"You can get an option to restore a pond, but they are only willing to give you about a third of the cost it needs to restore it like this, so these sites tend to get forgotten about.
"I wanted to make Defra see if they provide us with the right incentive and support, this is what can be achieved.
"It is a really quick and highly effective way of supporting biodiversity, and it is amazing to see the life that has come back."