Monitoring & Research


Monitoring & Research

Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) adult male in flight over reedbed at Woodwalton Fen NNR. Cambridgeshire. March. - Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Since the 1800’s wildlife has been recorded at Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen. What started out as wildlife recording has developed into more structured programme of survey and monitoring. To understand the benefits of the restoration work at the Great Fen we need to gather data before, during and after.

We gather information about the farmland, the land being restored and the existing nature reserves in this diverse Living Landscape, and on the movement of wildlife within it and, in and out of the Great Fen area. The information gathered on groups of species and their habitats then shapes the future management of the landscape.

The monitoring techniques used on the Great Fen include national schemes to enable us to compare our data with national trends, as well as trends within the Fen itself.

Flock of Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), flying close overhead

Flock of lapwing - Nick Upton/2020VISION

The monitoring work on the Great Fen is coordinated by the Great Fen Monitoring and Research Officer, Henry Stanier, as an annual programme. The work is carried out by a team of dedicated volunteers as well as Natural England staff, contractors, local natural history societies, university students and visiting naturalists.

A wide range of wildlife is monitored as part of the programme including birds, mammals, invertebrates, amphibians and plants. The abiotic conditions are also measured to record temperature, rainfall, water table levels, water quality and carbon emissions. This enables us to look at any correlation of species movement and population with changing environmental conditions and feeds into national schemes measuring climate change

If you would like to find out more or volunteer as a Great Fen monitor, please contact Henry Stanier.