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European Rewilding Network
71

Wicken Fen Vision

A 100-year plan to create a diverse landscape for wildlife and people

A corner of England that has more species of plants and wildlife than anywhere in the UK.
A lode waterway in the Wicken Fen Vision area.
Justin Minns
Located in Cambridgeshire in eastern England, the 100-year Wicken Fen Vision project is working to acquire and rewild 53 square kilometres of degraded wetland.
Justin Minns
Oedemera nobilis (thick legged flower beetle) on oxeye daisy at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
Rob Coleman
Visitors cycling at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
John Mil
Konik ponies grazing in the Wicken Fen Vision area.
Justin Minns

In 1899 the first two acres of Wicken Fen were purchased by the National Trust for £10. Since then, they’ve been looking after this special place which is home to more than 9,000 species of plants and animals. Less than 1% of original fen survives in East Anglia, of which Wicken Fen is a fragment. Having grown to 358 hectares, the nature reserve was too small and isolated to guarantee the survival of all its rare species, and under pressure from the increasing numbers of people seeking its peace and tranquility.

Wicken Fen needed an exciting and pioneering plan to take it into the next millennium. Launched in 1999, the Wicken Fen Vision is a 100-year plan to create a diverse landscape for wildlife and people over an area of 53 square kilometres; a historic landscape that will provide a space to breathe, think and explore for the modern world. After 20 years the need for the Vision is greater than ever before with demands on our environment continuing to increase.

Based on rewilding principles, the Wicken Fen Vision is committed to giving nature the space it needs. The progressive rewetting of land and restoration of natural processes such as wild grazing (Highland cattle and Konik ponies already roam free on the fen) will see the landscape continue evolving into a mosaic of habitats that support a burgeoning array of wildlife.

It will continue to expand and create a healthy natural and beautiful environment that is bigger, better and more connected for both wildlife and people.

Project: Wicken Fen Vision
Region: Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Increasing interest in the wild through communications
Aim and vision: (1) Habitats and wildlife: To create an extensive landscape for wildlife that is sustainable and adaptable.
(2) People: To provide a beautiful natural environment for the enjoyment,
learning and recreation of everyone.
(3) Learning: To learn continually from our experience and communicate our findings from a wide audience.
(4) Sustainable economy: To stimulate a diverse and thriving local economy focused on the natural environment.
Based on rewilding principles, the Wicken Fen Vision is committed to giving nature the space it needs. The progressive rewetting of land and restoration of natural processes such as wild grazing (Highland cattle and Konik ponies already roam free on the fen) will see the landscape continue evolving into a mosaic of habitats that support a burgeoning array of wildlife. By restoring natural processes, careful management of water and grazing will allow the land to evolve a mosaic of habitats for a wide variety of abundant wildlife. People will be able to enjoy access and recreation opportunities across a beautiful, tranquil wilderness, with opportunities for volunteering, education and interpretation.
Uniqueness of the project: In the UK the Wicken Fen Vision was one the first pioneering plans to embrace natural processes as a driver for landscape and land dynamics (naturalistic grazing and hydrology coupled with natural regeneration of vegetation). In the initial stages it set out to offer a buffer for the SAC, Ramsar, SSSI. As the project has developed it is now becoming significant for other benefits; carbon sequestration, flood defence as well as local recreation
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: The overall aim is to revert 53 square kilometers over the next 80 years. By 2030 we would like to have accomplished 30% in reversion. In addition to continue to protect the designated land that currently exists and develop land already in reversion.
Results so far: The Wicken Fen Vision has seen:
• 446 hectares of land purchased; more than doubling the areas delivering high quality nature conservation plus improved access and recreation.
• 100+ Konik ponies grazing
• ‘Lodes Way’ opened linking to National Cycle Network
• 48km of public access created or improved
• Two bridges built
• ‘Back to basics’ campsite established
• Number of annual visitors doubled since 1999
Inspirational value: When the Wicken Fen Vision launched it was a very new concept within the UK. Naturalistic grazing was only practiced at a few sites and none that had a programme similar to ours. The experience that we’ve had has given us a great insight into how this type of scheme can be followed and it’s clear that not every site can adopt it. We are now able to help other sites and organisations determine whether they are in a position to follow suit.
Experience you would like to share: Landscape-scale expansion, Rewilding strategy, Habitat management
Experience you would like to gain: Grazing, Countryside Management, Infrastructure, Community Engagement
Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
1999
End year
2099
Size (ha)
5300
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Freshwater lakes, Riparian floodplains, Wetlands
Natural process
Flooding, Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
Flagship species
Feral cattle, Feral horses, Otter, Red deer, Roe deer
Wicken Fen Vision
A corner of England that has more species of plants and wildlife than anywhere in the UK.
A lode waterway in the Wicken Fen Vision area.
Justin Minns
Located in Cambridgeshire in eastern England, the 100-year Wicken Fen Vision project is working to acquire and rewild 53 square kilometres of degraded wetland.
Justin Minns
Oedemera nobilis (thick legged flower beetle) on oxeye daisy at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
Rob Coleman
Visitors cycling at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.
John Mil
Konik ponies grazing in the Wicken Fen Vision area.
Justin Minns

In 1899 the first two acres of Wicken Fen were purchased by the National Trust for £10. Since then, they’ve been looking after this special place which is home to more than 9,000 species of plants and animals. Less than 1% of original fen survives in East Anglia, of which Wicken Fen is a fragment. Having grown to 358 hectares, the nature reserve was too small and isolated to guarantee the survival of all its rare species, and under pressure from the increasing numbers of people seeking its peace and tranquility.

Wicken Fen needed an exciting and pioneering plan to take it into the next millennium. Launched in 1999, the Wicken Fen Vision is a 100-year plan to create a diverse landscape for wildlife and people over an area of 53 square kilometres; a historic landscape that will provide a space to breathe, think and explore for the modern world. After 20 years the need for the Vision is greater than ever before with demands on our environment continuing to increase.

Based on rewilding principles, the Wicken Fen Vision is committed to giving nature the space it needs. The progressive rewetting of land and restoration of natural processes such as wild grazing (Highland cattle and Konik ponies already roam free on the fen) will see the landscape continue evolving into a mosaic of habitats that support a burgeoning array of wildlife.

It will continue to expand and create a healthy natural and beautiful environment that is bigger, better and more connected for both wildlife and people.

Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
1999
End year
2099
Size (ha)
5300
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Freshwater lakes, Riparian floodplains, Wetlands
Natural process
Flooding, Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
Flagship species
Feral cattle, Feral horses, Otter, Red deer, Roe deer
Specification
Project: Wicken Fen Vision
Region: Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Description
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Increasing interest in the wild through communications
Aim and vision: (1) Habitats and wildlife: To create an extensive landscape for wildlife that is sustainable and adaptable.
(2) People: To provide a beautiful natural environment for the enjoyment,
learning and recreation of everyone.
(3) Learning: To learn continually from our experience and communicate our findings from a wide audience.
(4) Sustainable economy: To stimulate a diverse and thriving local economy focused on the natural environment.
Based on rewilding principles, the Wicken Fen Vision is committed to giving nature the space it needs. The progressive rewetting of land and restoration of natural processes such as wild grazing (Highland cattle and Konik ponies already roam free on the fen) will see the landscape continue evolving into a mosaic of habitats that support a burgeoning array of wildlife. By restoring natural processes, careful management of water and grazing will allow the land to evolve a mosaic of habitats for a wide variety of abundant wildlife. People will be able to enjoy access and recreation opportunities across a beautiful, tranquil wilderness, with opportunities for volunteering, education and interpretation.
Uniqueness of the project: In the UK the Wicken Fen Vision was one the first pioneering plans to embrace natural processes as a driver for landscape and land dynamics (naturalistic grazing and hydrology coupled with natural regeneration of vegetation). In the initial stages it set out to offer a buffer for the SAC, Ramsar, SSSI. As the project has developed it is now becoming significant for other benefits; carbon sequestration, flood defence as well as local recreation
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: The overall aim is to revert 53 square kilometers over the next 80 years. By 2030 we would like to have accomplished 30% in reversion. In addition to continue to protect the designated land that currently exists and develop land already in reversion.
Results so far: The Wicken Fen Vision has seen:
• 446 hectares of land purchased; more than doubling the areas delivering high quality nature conservation plus improved access and recreation.
• 100+ Konik ponies grazing
• ‘Lodes Way’ opened linking to National Cycle Network
• 48km of public access created or improved
• Two bridges built
• ‘Back to basics’ campsite established
• Number of annual visitors doubled since 1999
Exchange
Inspirational value: When the Wicken Fen Vision launched it was a very new concept within the UK. Naturalistic grazing was only practiced at a few sites and none that had a programme similar to ours. The experience that we’ve had has given us a great insight into how this type of scheme can be followed and it’s clear that not every site can adopt it. We are now able to help other sites and organisations determine whether they are in a position to follow suit.
Experience you would like to share: Landscape-scale expansion, Rewilding strategy, Habitat management<br />
Experience you would like to gain: Grazing, Countryside Management, Infrastructure, Community Engagement
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