Pioneering study shows Fens are a hotspot for rare wildlife

PUBLISHED: 23:17 06 November 2012

Black Tailed Godwit
Picture: Mark Sissons, rspb-images.com

Black Tailed Godwit Picture: Mark Sissons, rspb-images.com

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A PIONEERING study has revealed that the Fens are home to 25 per cent of Britain’s rarest wildlife, as well as 13 globally rare species.

The Fens Biodiversity Audit - published today by the University of East Anglia - found 20 species that are found virtually no where else in the UK, including Fen ragwort, feather-wing beetles and the Cambridge Groundling moth.

The audit also reveals that the area is of global importance - as home to 13 threatened species from the global Red Data Book, including Black-tailed Godwits, otters, Barbastelle bats, Desmoulin’s whorl snail, white-clawed crayfish, and the European eel.

The audit is the first complete assessment of the biodiversity of the Fens, and researchers spent 12 months studying records collected by scientists and dozens of enthusiasts since 1670, and investigated a 3800km² area, spanning the Fenlands of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

The research area included many well known fen sites, including Chippenham, Woodwalton and Wicken, as well as lesser known sites such as Holme, Baston and Thurlby Fens, the Nene, Ouse and Stallode Washes and Dogsthorpe Star Pit.

Chris Panter, from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences, said: “We were really astonished by the incredible biodiversity and rare wildlife supported at just a few key sites within the large agricultural landscape.”

Martin Baker from the Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire said: “This information on the most important wetland habitats for wildlife will help all those involved in nature conservation in the Fens to refine and improve their management for wildlife.”

Mark Tarttelin from the South Lincolnshire Fens Project, added: “This work details for the first time the surprising diversity of the wildlife remaining in the Fens - and its rare and perilous state. We have to act now if we are to protect this for future generations.”

The report was funded by Natural England, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Biodiversity Partnership and the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, and supported by the RSPB and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

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