Less than 1% of the region's 'wild-fen' wetlands remain today and the surviving fragments are scattered and vulnerable. Many of the special plants and animals associated with these wetlands are now rare or threatened with extinction. Working with local landowners, farm tenants, the mineral industry and local communities, the project partners are seeking to create a sustainably managed landscape in which wildlife and people will thrive.
The Partnership aims to restore and re-create up to 800 hectares of Lincolnshire's lost wild fenlands between Bourne and Market Deeping. Centred on the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves in Baston and Thurlby Fens, habitat restoration will include areas of wet grasslands, utilised for grazing and hay production, reedbeds, swampland, wet woodlands and open water. The vision of the initiative is to create a new, large fenland landscape for people and wildlife in southern Lincolnshire.
The key objectives are:
The South Lincolnshire Fenlands Partnership (SLFP) is supported by:
Environment Agency; Lincolnshire County Council; Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust; Natural England; Sustrans; South Kesteven District Council; Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board; South Holland District Council; Baston Environment Group and Waterside Garden Centre.
The purchase of Willow Tree Farm, a former fenland washland which is linked to the remaining fenland reserves by the River Glen and the wildlife-rich Counter Drain, has provided an exceptional opportunity to increase Lincolnshire's remaining fenlands by 200%. The site has provided a place to live for declining birds such as snipe, redshank and reed bunting, and birds lost from the Lincolnshire's fens for over 100 years like bittern, corncrake and possibly even crane. It has also provided a secure site for endangered plants such as greater water parsnip; rare fish such as spined loach; dozens of rare invertebrates including hairy dragonfly and fenland diving beetle; and mammals including water vole and otter. At Willow Tree Fen it has also been possible to re-establish wildlife friendly grazing regimes using local and rare breeds of cattle and sheep.
Now and in the future, the project and its partners will continue to seek mutually beneficial ways to work with local communities, landowners, farm tenants, the mineral industry and businesses to integrate the fenland project into the development and diversity of the local economy. It will seek ways to provide benefits for green tourism, through improved access and help to raise awareness of the importance of our ecological inheritance and historic landscapes so that future generations may experience and appreciate their unique fenland heritage in perpetuity.
SLFP contributes to a larger cross boundary project, Fens for the Future, which aims to make the Fens one of the main UK landscape scale wetland complexes by 2020, within a matrix of sustainable agriculture.