Fenland Habitat proposal

As a landscape architecture student (in 1996), I proposed an ecological buffer zone, short rotation willow and poplar coppice, renewable energy and pastoral land use change around the existing fenland nature reserves of Wood Walton Fen and Holme Fen.

My¬†tutors criticised the project suggesting such a large scale project: reverting hundreds of acres of grade I agricultural land to ecological and pastoral land use was unlikely to be an economic reality, and questioned ‘ecological buffer’ theory.

Years later whilst living abroad I was intrigued to hear of the Great Fen Project: linking hundreds of acres of arable fen land around the above mentioned nature reserves as a managed wetland pasture.

The black and white aerial photograph shows the ‘ghosts’ of fenland rivers as silt alluvial deposits in the peat fen, with rectilinear field boundaries of drainage ditches¬†imposed on the landscape.

The black and white image of a large post and two ‘fen tigers’ from the inter-war years, shows the shrinkage of the peat fens through oxidation of the peat and removal of water. The top of the post was ground level in the Victorian era- the post being a column from the Great Exhibition hammered into Holme Fen to record the then ‘ground level’.