Tag: grassland habitat

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’.

My first dissertation (MA Hons Landscape Architecture) questioned to what extent habitat creation schemes were posing a threat to existing ancient grasslands? Using field surveys I undertook on various grasslands in Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, academic literature and my own seed mix trials, I fostered an understanding of responsible wildflower-rich grassland creation.

The moral concerns of local genotype pollution., distribution of non-endemic and non-native species, and the misguided view that we can create facsimiles of ancient grasslands are not, in my opinion, aiding our environment.

The study of vegetation communities and self-regulation/competition can, however, be instrumental in creating sustainable planting designs and solutions.

For my advanced diploma (historic environment) dissertation, and my current thesis (archaeology), I am gathering field-name, place-name and primary documentation evidence (Medieval charters, perambulations, land registers) to record the age of certain habitats on certain areas (Huntingdonshire, Isle of Wight, Essex, Middlesex, Hertfordshire) to increase our knowledge of where habitats developed under human influence.

I hope my findings may be of interest to masterplanners and decision makers in how we maintain, manage and enhance our local environments.

This submission was undertaken whilst at Belt Collins International Hong Kong Ltd. I co-ordinated the graphic presentation, conceived the photomontages and proposed the planting palettes as part of the three person team. We received a Diploma for reaching second place (out of over 150 entries), an illustrated write-up in a publication dedicated to the International Design Competition, as well as television coverage in Poland.