Great Fen, Abbey College, Stories in Film, Heritage Lottery Fund
The Great Fen will help on two counts with climate change:
1. It will help to prevent further warming (mitigation), saving 325,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released each year.
2. It will help to reduce the impact of climate change on people and wildlife (adaptation), by providing floodwater storage and helping wildlife to move and adapt to more extreme temperatures and weather.
It is estimated that around 15% of global emissions are from exposed peat soils and deforestation, where rainforests have been cleared or wetlands drained. The exposed peat oxidises with the air to create carbon dioxide.
By providing natural plant cover and moisture for the peat soils, the Great Fen will stop this erosion and prevent more than 325,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released every year from the peat soils – equivalent to the annual emissions of over 45,000 households, or more than 400,000 return flights between London and New York.*
Over 80 years, each restored hectare of the Great Fen will avoid the loss of 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide*.
While climate change is still happening, it is estimated that if we can reduce our emissions dramatically enough, we can still prevent the worse effects of climate change for wildlife and people.
*Results of a study of the Great Fen by the Open University and GLCC
Hotter summers, milder winters, more storms and more floods - these are just some of the expected consequences of climate change in coming decades.
Climate change will affect every aspect of society and so we need to adapt to the changes coming our way. For the Great Fen, this means joining Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen together to create a larger area for wildlife to move and adapt, providing space to store flood water and ensuring there is adequate water available for wetland wildlife in the summer months.
It is predicted that climate change will lead to more extreme rainfall events, increasing the risk of flooding, particularly in the fens which has the lowest lying ground in the country - in some places more than four metres below sea level.
The Great Fen will help by providing extra flood storage areas, to help protect our farmland and homes. See more information in Flood Protection.
In the past, wildlife could move north and south in response to changes in temperature, or in response to floods and droughts, but now, cities, towns, roads and vast stretches of farmland, prevent their movement and adaptation to climate change. In the UK, our wildlife lives mostly in small, widely dispersed nature reserves.
Extreme weather such as droughts, floods, unusual warmer or colder seasons could cause a great deal of damage to our British wildlife populations if they cannot adapt by moving to another location to live, feed or breed. This is a particular problem if their populations are too small in numbers to survive.
As Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen become connected through the Great Fen, the wildlife will become much more resilient to climate change.
The Great Fen has been a flagship for British conservation. It has now been joined by many other ‘Living Landscape’ projects - connecting small and fragmented habitats across the whole of the UK to create a national network through which wildlife and people can move.
These includes projects with landowners and local communities to create more hedgerows, green corridors, field margins, wildlife gardens, bigger, better nature reserves and more opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Discover the local Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.
Find out more about national Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes projects.
The Great Fen partners, in collaboration with organisations in the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium have worked on a pioneering international project called 'Climate Proof Areas' (CPA). Funded by Interreg, part of the European Development Fund, the CPA Project brought together ground-breaking environmental projects across Europe to help understand and plan for a changing climate.
This supported the Great Fen partners work with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Atkins to plan how the area can be used to store flood water to protect surrounding farmland and property. This work also looked at water requirements of different wetland habitats being created. CPA has also helped to fund habitat restoration work across the Great Fen.
To download a toolkit with tips to adapt to a changing climate, please visit the Climate Proof Areas website.