The Great Fen is a 50-year project to create a huge wetland area and join two of the last fragments of wild fen, Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen which are National Nature Reserves (NNRs). On their own they are too small and isolated to effectively support the special wildlife of the original fens. This project is one of the largest restoration projects of its type in Europe. This plan is to create an enveloping landscape of 3,700 hectares around the existing NNRs.
Restoration work is being recorded from the air using a Drone;
Wicken Fen is one of Europe’s most important wetland sites and supports over 8,500 species including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies. It is also the oldest national nature reserve in England. Wicken has a number of Fen habitats which includes an area of original Fen that has never been drained.
At Lakenheath Fen, the RSPB has converted an area of arable farmland into a large wetland, consisting mainly of reedbeds and grazing marshes. The new reedbeds have attracted hundreds of pairs of reed warblers and sedge warblers, as well as bearded tits and marsh harriers.
Bitterns have been seen increasingly in all seasons of the year. In early summer, hobbies catch insects high over the marshes. Golden Orioles breed in the remnant poplar woods on the reserve, along with blackcaps, garden warblers and woodpeckers. Barn owls and kingfishers are regularly seen during the winter months.
The main habitat of Chippenham Fen is peatland and covers 117 Ha . Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Ramsar site. It is part of the Fenland Special Area of Conservation: (95kb) (SAC) for its short species rich fen meadows on calcareous peaty soils and its tall species rich calcareous fen community dominated by saw sedge. The calcareous fen conditions with frequent ditches, pools and wet depressions have created a diverse wetland.
Willow Tree Fen is a new nature reserve being restored to a typical wet fenland landscape. It is linked to the last remnants of the wild fenlands in Lincolnshire by the River Glen and Counter Drain. Covering just 55 hectares, the Baston Fen and Thurlby Fen nature reserves represent the last of Lincolnshire's wild fenland landscapes and are home to special fenland wildlife.
The new nature reserve will include reedbeds, shallow meres, seasonally flooded pastures and hay meadows, providing habitats for rare and threatened wetland species such as otter, water vole, hairy dragonfly, spined loach, redshank, snipe and marsh harrier.
The Hilgay Wetland Creation Project will create reedbed habitat on over 60 hectares (154 acres) of former agricultural site in Methwold parish, near to the village of Hilgay in west Norfolk. It is the first part of an ambitious Wissey Living Landscape scheme. The construction phase began in 2010.
The Methwold site will become a further 20 hectares of reed bed and 40 hectares of grassland and woodland, which already holds marsh tit, spotted flycatcher and nightingale.
In the heart of The Fens, the Ouse Washes forms the largest area of washland (grazing pasture that floods in the winter) in the UK. The reserve attracts thousands of ducks and swans in winter, and in spring, hundreds of snipe, lapwings and redshanks breed. This is an excellent site for dragonflies in summer. Shallow flood levels provide the best viewing conditions for winter ducks and swans.
Welney covers 1,000 acres of the northernmost part of the Ouse Washes and is Britain’s largest area of seasonally-flooded land and the setting for one of the most magical events in the UK’s nature calendar - mass winter gatherings of many thousands of wild ducks, geese and swans.
The reserve also supports breeding populations of black-tailed godwit, redshank, snipe, little ringed plover, marsh harrier, gadwall, garganey, teal, skylark, yellow wagtail and reed bunting, as well as an abundance of other wetland creatures and plants.
In summer, the site is carpeted with wildflowers, among them rarities such as the hair-like pondweed and the greater water-parsnip. More than 300 species of butterfly and moth have been recorded.