Terry Brignall Photography
Holme Fen NNR
Size: 657 acres (266 hectares)
After drainage, an area on the Mere's southwestern shore was still too wet for farming. This became Holme Fen and survives as one of the only fragments of ancient wild fen. There are still small areas of acid grassland and heath as well as a very small piece of raised bog.
However, drainage of the adjacent areas meant that this National Nature Reserve itself dried out and became the largest Silver Birch woodland in lowland England. One of the aims of the Great Fen project is to prevent further damage to this habitat by ceasing to drain the surrounding land.
In addition to work on the drainage, 2015 has seen further restoration of the area:
Restoration of bog land
Staff from the Great Fen and Natural England, as well as volunteers from the Great Fen have been working hard to remove dense areas of Silver Birch and other trees in the areas of remaining bog. This tree growth has flourished over the years and has had a detrimental effect on the water levels of the bog areas, removal of these trees by cutting and application of local herbicides will allow the water levels to return to normal and the Sphagnum moss should once again thrive.
Control of Rhododendrons
The non native Rhododendron has had a foothold in Holme Fen for many years, an increased effort is being made by volunteers to control the spread of this invasive species by clearing existing areas.
Restoration of heath
The past few years have seen an increased effort to try and control the Silver Birch growth which has affected the majority of the small patches of remaining heath in Holme Fen. The surrounding trees annually scatter seeds across these areas and the resulting saplings grow rapidly. Work in the past has been carried out to fell larger trees bordering the areas but it takes a vast amount of effort to pull out the saplings and their roots by hand.
It's only with the help of our volunteer groups that we are able to keep on top of this work and several groups have been deployed to help. If you can spare a day or two a month then why not join one of the volunteer groups working across the Great Fen and other local sites, see the links below for further details:
Great Fen outdoor and conservation volunteers
Peterborough Conservation Volunteers
Wildlife trust BCN Volunteers