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High Fen Wildland

Nattergal’s second site is High Fen in Norfolk, a 292 hectare grassland in the Fens. It represents an incredible opportunity to take an ecologically important site and supercharge it for nature using natural processes.

High Fen drone
 © Nattergal

Until 2007, the land at High Fen was farmed for arable and also daffodil growing. But despite the deep and peaty soils, it was too wet and difficult to farm commercially and was sold. The next owners together with Natural England did a fantastic job to transform High Fen into a seasonally wet grassland, before selling it to Nattergal in December 2022.

At Nattergal, what we see is a species rich site but with largely one habitat type. With a few tweaks, natural capital investment and the reinstatement of natural processes, we will deliver a unique and wonderful habitat mosaic and wetland system in the Fens.

High Fen will offer wellness, eco-tourism, educational and research opportunities to provide opportunities for people as well as wildlife. 

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

Working with the Centre for Landscape Regeneration, a project being delivered by the Centre of Hydrology and Ecology at the University of Cambridge, we have discovered a that our species abundance is poor and concentrated around water. Getting more of the site wet for longer will allow species richness to spill out.

Beyond biodiversity, we have also measured the distribution and depth of our peatland, which urgently needs preserved as a vital carbon store. We have established that 40% of our wildland contains peat, which if left to dry out distributes carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Rewetting the peat and securing the storage of carbon dioxide is a major priority.

High Fen overview map and stategy
 © Nattergal

future plans

  1. Rewetting the land requires more than just removing the man-made drainage on our own land. There are a great number of additional factors at play. We have applied a number of innovative techniques, such as topography mapping using LIDAR, and the installation of hundreds of water monitoring stations, to fully understand how the landscape will function in its natural state.
  2. High Fen is effectively a leaky bath tub from which water continuously drains away. Installing sub-surface bunds lined with clay at strategic positions across the site will stop the lateral flow of water in targeted areas of the site (not affecting our neighbours), allowing us to saturate the ground and reap the rewards.
  3. The sale of natural capital products, namely peatland carbon credits and biodiversity net gain units, will help us finance the work.
High Fen drone
 © Nattergal

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More about High Fen Wildland

Find out more about High Fen Wildland on their website.

Visit High Fen Wildland website