Boughton Fen over the past year
Quite a lot has happened during the course of the past year.
Most importantly, after all the concerns that there would be no funds, was the good news that Countryside Stewardship had been awarded to Boughton Fen for the next ten years, with just shy of £6000 per year to go towards work to maintain the habitat. Natural England are very prescriptive in what they expect to be done, and there are some significant changes in how we need to have some tasks carried out, so we must be mindful of that both during working parties and when engaging contractors.
At last, in October, after two failed attempts over the past two years, the weather was good enough to install the second outfall, and Bonnets were also able to fit both safety platforms at the same time. Ironically, it did not rain enough over the winter to need it, but I am sure we all remember the previous winter, when we could have really done with it.
All the winter working parties went ahead without a hitch, and with new volunteers. It must be the first time that we have not lost days to the weather, and far more was done prior to Christmas than ever before. Consequently, when we came to start clearing and burning the cut reed at the end of the winter, there was no other outstanding conservation work left to be done.
Mark had been able to discuss the requirements of the new stewardship agreement with Stephen, our specialist grass/reed cutter, so he has done an experimental late summer cut along these guidelines. This meant that much of the cut grass was left in situ, and not cleared as before, with alternating strips of uncut grass.
Following the previous winter’s disastrous weather, making it impossible to cut much reed, NE gave us derogation to undertake a ‘double cut’ in 2019. Certainly, Stephen managed to cut reed over a large area, some of it in parts that have not been done before. The reed cutting has to be undertaken on a rotation basis. Gathering and burning it proved more tricky, although working parties were well attended and frequent, the weather was often too windy to make much progress.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust were able to give us a substantial piece of funding for specific work on the County Wildlife Site. This was a complete surprise, and it seems that it comes from money collected from members subscriptions etc, and is used to fund work on sites that have public access, thus giving something back their membership. Good news for all of you who have a membership!
Lastly, Dave Cooper has masterminded two complete cuts of the wildlife walk over the past two months, supported by a hardworking group of volunteers. This has been a tremendous effort, and judging by the number of people who are using the site, is certainly well appreciated.