Fens’ rare diversity of wildlife is under threat

South Lincs Fens project officer Mark Tarttelin with other guests at Willow Tree Fen. (SG071112-123NG)
South Lincs Fens project officer Mark Tarttelin with other guests at Willow Tree Fen. (SG071112-123NG)
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Conservation work going on in south Lincolnshire was held up as the way forward at yesterday’s launch of a total audit of wildlife in the Fens

The audit by academics from the University of East Anglia drawing on information gathered from 1600 to today shows how the amazing biodiversity of the area is under threat.

The event was promoting the Fens for the Future project aimed at saving Fenland’s wide variety of animal and vegetable species as far ahead as 2058.

More than 100 Fenland farmers, naturalists both amateur and professional and academics got together at Waterside Garden Centre rounding off the day by touring Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s latest nature reserve Willow Tree Fen near Pode Hole.

At Waterside they heard presentations from speakers including one of the audit’s authors, Paul Dolman of University of East Anglia.

Trust spokesperson Rachel Shaw said: “Willow Tree Fen, on land we bought in 2009, is a good example of what can be done to maintain biodiversity. We’ve transformed it from intensive farming to grazed wet grassland so it remains productive.

“There’s a drain which connects it to Baston Fen nature reserve which has an astonishing number of different species of water snails and pondweed, very rare.

“There’s been a lack of strategy up to now that’s resulted in the loss of many species as documented in the audit, and though all the nature reserves in the Fens of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire still have good biodiversity, they are far apart and that makes them vulnerable.

“We have to work in partnership with landowners, drainage boards and farmers to link them up and ensure productive farmland also has benefits for wildlife – Nicholas Watts at Deeping St Nicholas is a good example of a farmer who’s working in that way.”