Grant tips the balance

PUBLISHED: 16:12 07 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:32 04 May 2010

BRITAIN S oldest nature reserve at Wicken Fen has been given the chance to expand creating new habitats for wildlife - thanks to a grant of almost £500,000. The money has come from the Landfill Communities Fund, which encourages rubbish tip owners to use

BRITAIN'S oldest nature reserve at Wicken Fen has been given the chance to expand creating new habitats for wildlife - thanks to a grant of almost £500,000.

The money has come from the Landfill Communities Fund, which encourages rubbish tip owners to use some of the tax collected for every tonne of rubbish dumped and donate it to environmental projects.

It will pay for 42 hectares of land opposite Burwell Fen and work to create new floodplain grazing marsh, wet woodland, fen and reed bed and a community wildlife walk.

Beth Bottrill, regional fund-raising manager at the National Trust, which runs Wicken Fen, said: "When we heard that we had won, we were all absolutely thrilled.

"The trust was presented with an opportunity to acquire 42 hectares of arable land adjoining the existing reserve and we knew this award was our only chance to acquire it."

Wicken Fen, one of the most important wetlands in Europe, was created in 1899 when two acres of fen were bought for £10.

More than a century later, following nearly 60 further acquisitions of portions of land, the site now extends to more than 600 hectares or 1,500 acres.

With more than 99.9 per cent of East Anglia's fenland drained, it provides a vital habitat for endangered species such as the bittern, otter and great crested newt, as well as an extensive range of other wildlife.

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