Along with most of the country, work at the Great Fen was suspended just as planting had finally got underway in the two year Water Works project. The ground had been prepared for the crop trials area and planting just begun, with red mace heads being scattering and the planting of bulrush started.
However, this work can and will continue, just as soon as restrictions are eased and lifted, with the planting sequence beginning anew - with 250,000 plants being held at nurseries, and which will need to get in before the autumn.
Great Fen project manager Kate Carver says: “At a time when it’s never been more important to keep hope alive in the world, work is going ahead behind the scenes on our ground breaking Water Works project which is developing a more sustainable system for farmers and growers trialling crops that will grow in wet conditions and transforming how people work together for sustainable development in the Fens within a UNESCO Fens Biosphere.
“Although Covid-19 has stopped work on site, the partners and project team (WTBCN, Cambridgeshire ACRE, University of East London and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) are busy developing the climate change science, researching specialist wetland crops and creating new ways to keep in touch with people during lock-down. Everyone is ready to spring into action on site once we get the all clear, the diggers will be back at the Great Fen work creating the special wet farming beds and an army of nimble fingers will be planting the first wave of wetland plants. With 250,000 plants to get in before the autumn, we will be as busy as the bees on the nearby wildflower meadows, and when all is done our Water Works project will be building peat soils, cleaning water and locking in carbon, helping nature to support us all in that future we are all longing for. And watch this space for news of our fantastic online LEGO® build to create a replica of Fens Biosphere later in the summer - with the opportunity to join in by making biosphere creatures and habitat creations!”
The Great Fen is also one of 12 project through to the final stages of Heritage Horizon Awards and have until November 2020 to apply for development funding. Decisions will be made in early 2021, with around half the shortlisted projects expected to be awarded funding to develop proposals further (applying for the first of two batches of £50m with up to two years to submit delivery proposals, with full funding awards decided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund Board).