THE latest high-profile name to lend support to the Great Fen Project has more reasons to do so than most. Beth Rothschild has followed in the footsteps of her famous family by becoming the latest patron of the scheme. A keen horticulturist with interes

The Rothschild Bungalow in Woodwalton Fen.

THE latest high-profile name to lend support to the Great Fen Project has more reasons to do so than most.

Beth Rothschild has followed in the footsteps of her famous family by becoming the latest patron of the scheme.

A keen horticulturist with interests in conservation and environmental issues, her family has been intricately linked with the conservation movement - particularly Huntingdonshire, where the Great Fen Project is based.

In 1910 the Hon Charles Rothschild, Beth's great-grandfather, purchased Woodwalton Fen - one of the keystones of the project - as his own private nature reserve, to protect it from collectors and safeguard the species and the habitats that thrived therein.

His foresight in buying Woodwalton marked a considerable phase in conservation history. As well as carrying out substantial scientific research, he established the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves in 1912 - this is now known as the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

The family connection with the Great Fen Project area continued with Charles' daughter, Miriam (Beth's great-aunt), a scientist, carrying out research on Woodwalton Fen.

Now, almost a century after Charles' original purchase, Beth has become patron of the Great Fen Project. "I want to follow through with Charles' and Miriam's vision to protect a very good part of Britain," she said.

The project will link Woodwalton and Holme Fen National Nature Reserves and protect much of the land around them - 9,000 acres in total.

"Without Charles Rothschild's foresight, fenland habitat would be more endangered than it is now", said Chris Gerrard, Great Fen Project manager. "Woodwalton Fen would be farmland, and the wildlife that thrives within its boundaries would be non-existent in this area. He was one of the first conservationists and his pioneering work saved not only Woodwalton Fen but many other sites in the UK.

"To have Beth as a patron of the Great Fen Project is really exciting. Her family's ties with Woodwalton Fen and her interest in horticulture and environmental issues make her an excellent ambassador for the project."

INFORMATION: Beth joins fellow patrons, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Sir John Major and Tim Smit (co-founder of the Eden Project).