Importance of Natural Resources

Tackling climate change at Wicken Fen – Ranger stories from the National Trust

The main climate change effects that we’re seeing here at Wicken Fen are obviously in the weather and the temperatures. We’re seeing much milder winters and quite often dry summers, and this is having a big impact on the wildlife which we manage here. So although Wicken is a fantastic positive in relation to climate change because it creates space for species that need it, the thing that worries me is the fact that this space is limited. There’s an increasing pressure from housing development, and so many things that create a lack of space for wildlife. My concern is that we have more spaces like Wicken Fen, and more of Wicken Fen so that the wildlife can spread out and has that space to adapt to changing temperatures, and changing climate. On some of the wilder parts of the reserve that we’ve recently acquired it’s a case of enabling wildlife to colonise them. And so that involves grazing livestock. And we’ve introduced here highland cattle and connick ponies. And they help to shape the landscape here. So we have to look after those and ensure they have as wild and comfortable a life as possible so that they create this fantastic mosaic of habitats on the reclaimed land. In order to ensure the fenland habitat we have to add water to and we do that in the winter months. Literally overnight from adding water we get a whole raft of different wild fowl species move in. Lots of ducks and geese that really benefit from what we’re doing here and create a fantastic atmosphere. So the soil here at Wicken Fen is very old because it’s decomposed plant material, and that creates a very rich peat. We call it peat soil. And this is very important because it’s actually a carbon store, that if it gets exposed and eroded into the landscape that is a negative. But the work we’re doing here to keep it wet stores that carbon, and therefore it stops it from going into the atmosphere and so that’s having a benefit towards combating climate change.

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