Great Fen - Wildlife Trust
The Great Fen is a 50-year project to create a huge wetland area. One of the largest restoration projects of its type in Europe, the landscape of the fens between Peterborough and Huntingdon is being transformed for the benefit both of wildlife and of people.
A lost landscape
The wild fens with their abundant wildlife once stretched for hundreds of miles across eastern England. Starting in the 17th century the land was drained for farming and more than 99% of this habitat with many rare species of plants and animals disappeared. Two of the last fragments of wild fen, Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen, became National Nature Reserves (NNRs), but even they are too small and isolated to effectively support the special wildlife of the original fens.
The Great Fen vision
The plan is to create an enveloping landscape of 3,700 hectares around the existing NNRs. By buying and restoring farmland, they will be joined together and greatly enlarged, recreating a range of wetland features with unprecedented conservation benefits for wildlife.
As well as providing a haven for fen wildlife, the Great Fen will create a massive green space for people, opening new opportunities for recreation, education and business. It will incorporate areas where winter flood waters can be stored and will prevent the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide each year.
Progress so far
To date, some 55.5% of the required land has been aquired by the project, although some of this may remain in arable production for some years to come. With local farmers, the project team is working on the land to establish pasture which is grazed and cut for hay - the first steps towards establishing the new wetland.
Trails and signs are being established and plans for a visitor centre have begun. Events, activities, volunteering and training opportunities are already involving many local people.