Conservation in Action - Fen Harvester joins the team
The National Trust has an ambitious target to return all our SSSI's (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) back to favourable condition by 2020. At Wicken Fen we've purchased a Fen Harvester to help us meet this ambitious target.
Wicken Fen is a unique remnant of un-drained fen, which once covered the vast lowlands of East Anglia. It's not surprising that this unique environment holds a range of designations including Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Nature Reserve (NNR), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Ramsar (designated under the Ramsar Convention as an internationally important wetland).
The SSSI covers an area of 169 hectares and despite our very best efforts it has been classified as in an unfavourable recovering condition by Natural England.
Under our management plan, which is approved by Natural England, we aim to cut around 40 - 50 hectares per year. The plant communities at Wicken Fen require a regular cutting regime (every three years) to enable them to thrive.
In 2017 the Broads Authority kindly provided the use of their Fen Harvester, in order that we could assess its suitability for working on the fen. Our Ranger team were very impressed by its ability to work in our wetland environment and so we made the significant investment to purchase our own machine.
Hopefully, the Fen Harvester will enable us to get the SSSI into favourable condition by our 2020 target.
The Harvester will be cutting some of the droves and sedge fields. The main annual cut gets underway in August and carries on through September and October. During the winter months we move on to the reed beds and scrub clearance. Keep an eye on our social media where we will be posting updates and letting you know when the harvester is visible from the boardwalk.