Tony House, www.seeing.org.uk
The Great Fen will provide a range of new business opportunities in the local area.
As the Great Fen develops over time, opportunities for tourism will grow, both Natural Tourism (where visitors are attracted by landscape, habitats, and species) and Outdoor Leisure (where visitors come and enjoy recreation and sports pursuits, education, heritage and the arts).
In future visitors will boost business to local pubs, shops, and other facilities. There will also be opportunities for new tourism related businesses, such as cycle hire, Bed & Breakfast, catering outlets and craft shops, and for tourism related jobs within those new businesses and within new Great Fen facilities such as the Great Fen Visitor Centre.
The Great Fen has already started to make a contribution to the local economy. Large sums of funding drawn into the Great Fen are spent with local businesses and contractors. By the end of the Heritage Lottery Fund project (2013) the Great Fen will have injected £2,096,892 into the local economy through contracts, goods and services with some 85 local and regional businesses and contractors.
The Great Fen is currently undertaking a study to look at the whole range of economic benefits the Great Fen can deliver to local people and local businesses and farmers.
Changes in the landscape mean that farmers can benefit from new income generating opportunities , for example through eligibility for agri-environment schemes and through new forms of production such as hay and meat.
Since the restoration of land has begun, local graziers have been using Great Fen land to rear their livestock, including cattle and sheep. The livestock in turn help to create better and more varied habitats for wildlife.
Hay crops have been taken from the new meadows, which have then been sold as animal feed. These crops help to take nutrients out of the soil, which helps a wider variety of fen wildlife to flourish. Future crops may include willow and a local source of reed for thatching. Currently the vast majority of reed is imported.
Already the Great Fen provides training opportunities for volunteers and young people, including internships and work placements. As the Great Fen develops, the range of opportunities will continue to increase.