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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Fenland project gets land boost
Woodwalton Fen
The project will connect Woodwalton Fen with Holme Fen
A plan to create one of the country's biggest conservation areas has moved a step closer after the acquisition of 3,200 acres (1,294 hectares) of land.

The Great Fen Project in Cambridgeshire aims to eventually connect Woodwalton Fen and Holme Fen nature reserves.

More than 1,200 people donated money to the project to help buy the land from the Crown Estate.

The conservation scheme aims to provide a haven for a wide variety of wildlife once common in the Fens.

The Great Fen Project is now close to holding 75-80% of the 9,100 acres (3,700 hectares) it needs between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

Abundant species

Organisers have already started to turn some fields back into wild wetlands, and believe recent sightings of marsh harriers and more skylarks are signs of success.

About 10,000 years ago eastern England, like most of Britain, was covered in woodland.

Over millennia, trees grew in warm, dry periods then decayed into peat during cooler, wetter times.

Alan Bowley, manager of the Woodwalton and Holme Fen nature reserves, said by the 1600s the Fens was one of the most prosperous areas of the country.

He said: "They were full of wildlife habitats and abundant species, and the people living in the fens were making their living from that - cutting reeds, shooting enormous numbers of wildfowl, taking huge numbers of fish out of the rivers and grazing animals."

Woodwalton Fen alone is thought to have been home to more than 900 species of moth and 850 invertebrates over the years.

The project is to restore a vanished fenland landscape by linking two fens

Wetlands scheme awarded 94,000
22 Sep 05 |  Cambridgeshire
Wetland habitat set to grow
28 Jan 03 |  Science/Nature

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