The Great Fen Project

JUST north of Huntingdon is a huge environmental project that is helping to mitigate the affects of climate change. The Great Fen Project, between Huntingdon and Peterborough, is a restoration scheme that will safeguard two of Huntingdonshire s most impor

JUST north of Huntingdon is a huge environmental project that is helping to mitigate the affects of climate change.

The Great Fen Project, between Huntingdon and Peterborough, is a restoration scheme that will safeguard two of Huntingdonshire's most important wildlife sites, and create a wonderful public green space for everyone to enjoy.

One of the key issues facing wildlife in Huntingdonshire is climate change - stormier weather, warmer winters and reduced rainfall will affect important wildlife sites.

However, the Great Fen Project will contribute to the task of adapting to, and mitigating, climate change.


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The aim of the project is to create a large wildlife habitat between and around Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen national nature reserves. Enlarging and buffering such sites is one way to help wildlife adapt to climate change and provide protection for rare and interesting habitats and species, such as like fen violet, nightingale and bittern.

Another adaptation the project partners - the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England and the Wildlife Trust - are investigating is the use of the project area for flood risk management.

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With the likelihood of stormier weather comes and increased risk of flooding. By providing a place in the Great Fen for flood water, surrounding land and property will be better protected.

The very soil of the Great Fen project could also help in the fight against climate change.

The soil in the project area is dominated by peat, a highly organic substance composed of dead plant material.

When peat is exposed to the air it decomposes rapidly and creates large amounts of carbon dioxide - this decomposition is why soil levels across Cambridgeshire's Fens are lower now than in the past.

A dramatic demonstration of this is the Holme Post, in Holme Fen, which shows that in the last 150 years or so, the ground levels have dropped over 14ft.

A study by the Open University has shown that each year the loss of soil gives off greenhouse gasses equivalent to approximately 325,000 tonnes of CO2. That's a lot when you consider the average house gives off about 10 tonnes.

The Great Fen Project will help mitigate climate change by eliminating the loss of greenhouse gas from soil decomposition and could, in the future, take more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases. This would create new peat soil, locking away carbon.

INFORMATION: If you would like to find out more about the project, please visit www.greatfen.org.uk

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