Fens For The Future Partnership
The Fens for the Future Partnership is a group of public and voluntary sector organisations whose broad aim is to further the development of a partnership approach to landscape-scale conservation on Fenland.
Fens for the Future Partnership will achieve enhanced biodiversity outcomes and increased delivery of ecosystem services within the geographic area of the Inner Fens.
This broad aim will be delivered by means of a long-term Strategic Plan which will encompass their vision, a major part of which is to develop and establish an enhanced and sustainable ecological network on Fenland.
The Fens was England's largest wetland. Now less than 1% of the original wetland habitat remains. The Fens for the Future Vision is to see sustainable wetlands restored, re-created and reconnected across the Fens for the benefit of people, our natural and historic heritage and the rural economy. Sustainable wetlands will help reduce storm effects, make available clean water and retain peatland soils so helping mitigate the effects of climate change, while at the same time offering a haven for wildlife, protecting our historic heritage and providing exciting areas for people to visit. Recreational access and tourism increases with more people taking exercise in the countryside. The diversity of the local economy widens and opportunities for employment in local communities are created.
The Fens remain nationally important for modern productive farming. The provision for wildlife in the farmed landscape increases significantly with the uptake of environmentally friendly farming practices; sensitive ditch and drain management, thus creating a network of wildlife habitats extending throughout Fenland. The variety and abundance of farmland wildlife increases and iconic Fenland species thrive.
The Fens for the Future Partnership Mission Statement is to make the Fens one of the main UK landscape scale wetland complexes by 2020, within a matrix of sustainable agriculture.
A Strategic Plan For Fenland: A Proposal For An Enhanced Ecological Network
This Strategic Plan is intended to help the Fens for the Future Partnership identify the top priorities for biodiversity action and assist with subsequent funding bids across the 'Inland Fens' of the Fens National Character Area.
The Need For Change: Analysis and Way Forward
The rationale for intervention: Only eight main wetland sites extending to 4,792 ha (1.4%) remain in the Fens. Although action is being taken by conservation organisations and some of the fen habitats are still remarkably diverse (Wicken Fen has 8,459 recorded species) these habitats remain vulnerable and are still losing species. Urgent measures are needed to address this situation.
The recent national policy documents relating to biodiversity such as the Lawton Report, Making Space for Nature: A review of England's Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network and the subsequent White Paper The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature provide the strategic steer for this Plan's approach. Lawton sets out the actions needed to enhance the resilience and coherence of England's ecological network in four words: more, bigger, better and joined. Biodiversity 2020: A Strategy for England's Wildlife and Ecosystem Services aims to halt overall biodiversity loss, support healthy well-functioning ecosystems and establish coherent ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.
The need for urgent biodiversity action is only part of the picture as other ecosystem services such as the increase of carbon loss from peat wastage; water quality and availability are issues that have both medium and long term implications for local communities.
The Fens for Future Partnership Steering Group
- Anglia Ruskin University
- Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust
- Cambridgeshire County Council
- Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
- Country Land and Business Association
- Environment Agency
- Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
- Middle Level Commissioners
- National Farmers Union
- National Trust
- Natural England
- Norfolk Wildlife Trust
- Peterborough City Council
- Rex Sly (individual farmer representative)
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- Smiths Gore
- Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
- Witham Forth District Internal Drainage Board