Formerly a vast, impenetrable marshland, the Fens now help to feed the country.
Devastating flooding in previous centuries earned this low-lying landscape its name the “drowned lands”, but thanks to modern drainage our arable farmers now benefit from the fertile soils. Alongside agriculture a rich array of wildlife and natural habitats flourish, many internationally important.
People are at the heart of this landscape. We’re working alongside farmers, businesses, local communities and many organisations to keep the Fens special for wildlife, local people and visitors.
Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:
This complex of lakes and traditional riverside meadows next to the River Great Ouse used to be gravel workings. It's a fantastic place to explore and watch birds with huge numbers of ducks, swans and geese on the lakes in winter. In summer, terns, hobbies and a variety of dragonflies are regularly seen. Otters also live here, but to catch a glimpse of one is rare.
At Lakenheath Fen, the RSPB has converted arable farmland into a large wetland. There is a new visitor centre where you can find out more about the reserve, its wildlife and history. An events programme is run throughout the year and family explorer backpacks and trail guides are available.
In the Cambridgeshire Fens we're working with Hanson on an ambitious scheme. We're transforming a working sand and gravel quarry into a vast nature reserve with open water, grassland and, when complete, the biggest reedbed in the UK.
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. In spring hundreds of snipe, lapwings and redshanks return to breed.
We're working to safeguard and improve special places for nature. Each Futurescape contains a range of initiatives in addition to our reserves. The combination of these creates better conditions for wildlife across the countryside.
The Thorney Farmland Bird Friendly Zone (TFBFZ) is an ambitious landscape-scale farmland bird conservation project. It's aimed at tailor managing arable farmland across a large area of Cambridgeshire countryside for the benefit of farmland birds and other wildlife.
The Hanson-RSPB Wetland Project is an ambitious partnership project that will deliver the RSPB Ouse Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire.
Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in The Fens. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with:
- The Environment Agency
- Fens for the Future partnership
- Great Fen Project
- Greater Cambridge/Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership
- Greater Cambridgeshire Local Nature Partnership
- Hanson PLC
- Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
- Middle Level Commissioners
- National Trust
- Natural England
- Norfolk Wildlife Trust
- Ouse Washes Landscape partnership
- Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
- Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Saving special places
Victory for Harapan Rainforest
Beautiful Hutan Harapan forest is a precious remnant of the rainforest that once covered much of Sumatra (Photo: RSPB-images/Steve Roland) Hutan Harapan is one of the last remaining areas of dry lowland Sumatran forest and is among the most th...(r...Posted 12/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
Rila Mountains: The Final Piece in Bulgaria's Protected Area Network for Birds
Daniel Pullan, our International Casework Manager writes: I was thrilled last week when my Bulgarian colleague Irina Mateeva told me that the Bulgarian Government had designated the last part of the Rila Mountains as a Special Protection Area. This a...Posted 04/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
A net gain for nature
How can built development leave the natural environment in a better shape than it was before? This is the question at the heart of Defra’s recent consultation on ‘biodiversity net gain’. We know from the State of Nature 2016 report ...(read more)Posted 01/03/2019 by Simon Marsh
What will the new NPPF mean for places, people and nature?
On Tuesday the Government published a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England. You can see our previous commentary on the draft version here , here and here . The NPPF sets out the Government’s planning policies for England...(read ...Posted 27/07/2018 by Steph