Wildlife campaigners set their sights on unique status for historic fens

PUBLISHED: 08:56 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:56 31 January 2018

woodwalton fen

woodwalton fen

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Fenland in Cambridgeshire could become an important UNESCO biosphere nature reserve if research into the proposal shows it is viable.

Fenland in Cambridgeshire could become an important UNESCO biosphere nature reserve if research into the proposal shows it is viable.

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire has been awarded almost £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to find out what is required to achieve the rare distinction for the land.

At present there are only six reserves in the country designated by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Biosphere reserves recognise a unique mix of plants and animals, together with a valued environment and way of life for people living in the area. They set out to provide a framework for projects which improve people’s lives and protect the environment in a sustainable way through conservation, development and logistical functions.

Biosphere reserves need to have a core area which is highly protected and are of at least European importance.

Kate Carver, manager of the Wildlife Trust’s Great Fen Project, which is creating a major wetland reserve near Huntingdon, said: “In a changing world, imaginative and innovative solutions are needed to tackle major challenges such as how we can protect the natural environment for everyone to enjoy whilst satisfying the needs of growing populations for homes and jobs, the key is communities working together to achieve sustainable development.

“We are thrilled that support from players of the National Lottery will enable us to move closer to a possible application to UNESCO.”

The funding will enable the trust to work with a range of organisations and interests - such as conservation groups, academics, businesses, farmers and councils - from across Cambridgeshire to identify what becoming a biosphere could mean for the Cambridgeshire fens.

A “route map” of how this could be achieved could then be drawn up.

The Wildlife Trust came up with the biosphere proposal after working on landscape scale through its Living Landscape initiative.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “On behalf of National Lottery players we are delighted to be able to fund this project that will enable the Wildlife Trust to work with partners to assess the feasibility of applying for a biosphere reserve destination for the important heritage which forms the Cambridgeshire fens.”

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