My opinion on Fen Biosphere

The Fen Biosphere project is getting to a crucial juncture where it needs some political support to move to the next stage...

The Fen Biosphere project is getting to a crucial juncture where it needs some political support to move to the next stage of the Unesco application. - Credit: AIDEN VAN DE WEYER

In a few weeks, we will be released from our homes.

What better place to rediscover our freedom and reconnect with the wider world than the land of big skies - the Fens, that stretch from the surroundings of Cambridge through to Lincolnshire and Norfolk?

This landscape is so characteristic of our county. It is dominated by arable farming, that feeds the whole country.

It is criss-crossed by special natural habitats, especially waterways and wetlands, and by amazing heritage assets, from picturesque villages, beautiful churches and the most spectacular cathedral in the country.

This landscape is profoundly shaped by humans, as we sought to exploit the extraordinary productivity of the rich soils.

The Fen Biosphere project is getting to a crucial juncture where it needs some political support to move to the next stage...

The Fen Biosphere project is getting to a crucial juncture where it needs some political support to move to the next stage of the Unesco application. - Credit: DAVE PORTER PHOTOGRAPHY

But over the last four hundred years, we haven't done so well at making the most of the opportunities to enrich the nature of the Fens. 


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And we haven’t managed to promote the Fens as a extraordinarily attractive place for visitors.

It is, I believe, the idea moment to move to a new stage in our relationship with the fens.

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With the increase in holidays within the UK caused by the pandemic, with greater awareness of the importance of biodiversity and local healthy food production, with more concern about inequalities within Cambridgeshire, it is time to find a new balance between all the uses of this area, between nature, residents, farmers, visitors and the economy.

The vision for the Fen Biosphere, which is currently being considered by several local councils, is the ideal way to achieve that.

With the UNESCO designation, the strategy of the Biosphere will have the credibility to bring a whole range of partners together so that the action of each individual body is enhanced through better coordination.

The Biosphere could be the focus of much greater engagement with the public, both during the creation of the Biosphere, when public input is vital, and during the ongoing work of the Biosphere.

There is so much that can be done to enhance the Fens, to make it better for our residents and to improve the natural environment.

AIDAN VAN DE WEYER, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

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