Conservation in Action - Resting Sedge Fen

This winter we are taking some important steps to rest and protect the unique habitat of Wicken's Sedge Fen, over the wetter winter months.

The problem

In recent years we've noticed that a combination of greater footfall & wetter ground conditions have had a detrimental impact on the fragile habitat of Sedge Fen, especially along the  Nature Trail, which follows the perimeter of the fen.

Boggy / muddy conditions have become common leading to compaction of the peat soils & footpaths have widened as walkers often deviate from the main path to avoid wet or muddy areas. The plant communities on the footpath margins are struggling as seedlings struggle to break through the compacted soil.

In the past we've tried to use duckboards to provide an easier access route through the worst conditions, however plant communities beneath the boards suffer from a lack of light. You also tend to create additional areas of damage where people step off the boards, and it takes considerable effort by the Ranger team to monitor & move the boards.

The cure

Just like when we are recovering from illness, injury or surgery, often the best medicine is rest - and that's exactly what we're doing for Sedge Fen.

For the last few years we've rested sections of the Nature Trail during the wetter winter months, typically from October to June (or until the fen has dried sufficiently). Early indications are that areas that have been rested are showing good signs of recovery.

This year we plan to rest all but a small section of the Nature Trail from the beginning of October. Hopefully this will aid the recovery of the plant species, and there will be amazing displays of wildflowers, yellow rattle, devil's bit scabious, ragged robin & early marsh & southern marsh orchids to enjoy in late spring & summer. 

Wild orchids on Sedge Fen
Close picture of wild orchids along Wicken Lode bank

Sedge Fen is open

You can still enjoy the natural beauty of Sedge Fen over the winter months.

The all weather Boardwalk Trail, which is just over 1km and the two hides (Roger Clarke & Boardwalk Hide) will be open. This is a great route to explore the fen and is suitable for wheel & push chairs.

Explore Sedge Fen on the all weather Boardwalk Trail
Picture of windpump taken from the Boardwalk Trail

The section of the Nature Trail from the Boardwalk (by the new windpump) to the old Tower Hide will remain open this winter.

Sedge Fen is a hen harrier roosting site in winter (and depending on which area of the fen they are roosting on), some visitors like to watch the harriers from the old Tower Hide at dusk. During the coming winter we will be evaluating the feasibility of constructing an elevated platform for wildlife viewing closer to the Boardwalk Trail.

We are also creating new paths around the woodland area on the northern boundry of Sedge Fen. This area is great for wildlife and the ground can cope with greater footfall. Access to this area will be via the Roger Clarke Hide.

Video

Resting Sedge Fen

Watch our video with Martin, our Countryside Manager, who explains more about resting Sedge Fen, and the top spots for wildlife viewing over the winter months.

Working together

Our Rangers & volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to look after the unique habitats of Sedge Fen.

Please help the recovery process by giving the Nature Trail a rest this winter. Hopefully we can all enjoy the beautiful flora & fauna next spring and for many years to come.

Thank you for your help & support