HomeGreen TechnologyGroundwater monitoring underpins administration of the Nice Fen

Groundwater monitoring underpins administration of the Nice Fen

The Nice Fen stretches between Peterborough and Huntngdon, and incorporates many farms and villages, in addition to two nationwide nature reserves.

Securing a sustainable future for the Nice Fen relies upon, in lots of respects, upon restoration derived from managing water ranges. Wendy Pressure from OTT HydroMet explains how a monitoring programme helps to realize the formidable targets which have been set for this nationally important fen panorama.

Strolling by means of the Nice Fen, watching Chinese language water deer grazing within the distance, while a raven calls close by and a pair of buzzards hover within the rising warmth, guests might be forgiven for pondering that they’re surrounded by a pure atmosphere untouched by human palms. Nonetheless, as Henry Stanier, Wildlife Belief Monitoring and Analysis Officer, explains; “Nothing might be farther from the reality; human exercise, principally pushed by agriculture, has targeted totally on water ranges, and this has had a profound impact on the native ecology.”

In 2001, 5 organisations got here collectively to set out a imaginative and prescient for the Nice Fen, with the intention of offering a extra sustainable future for the world. In lots of respects, this work focuses on restoration by managing water ranges, so a community of monitoring wells has been established.

The realm can also be the main target of a habitat restoration undertaking involving the native Wildlife Belief, Pure England, the Atmosphere Company, Huntingdonshire District Council and the Center Degree Commissioners. Two nationally important nature reserves are situated there: Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen.

The Nice Fen covers 14 sq. miles of land that’s being restored to wild fen over a 50-100 yr timescale, creating an enormous nature restoration community, offering a Residing Panorama for fenland species together with threatened fen wildlife, equivalent to bitterns and otters. A mosaic of various wetland habitats has been established to assist all kinds of wildlife, equivalent to dragonflies, butterflies and amphibians. This habitat can also be appropriate for flowers and different vegetation, a few of that are discovered virtually nowhere else within the UK, such because the Fen violet and the Fen woodrush.

In 1630 a bunch of rich landowners, headed by the Earl of Bedford, got down to drain the fens for agriculture and to minimise winter flooding. Lots of the native individuals had been fiercely against the draining, believing it might deprive them of their conventional technique of livelihood from wildfowling, fishing and reed slicing, and a bunch often known as the ‘Fen Tigers’ vandalised the dykes, ditches, sluices and reedbeds. Nonetheless, by the tip of the seventeenth Century the drainage undertaking was full.

This drainage trigger extra issues, equivalent to peat shrinkage, and extra drainage tasks adopted. Within the 1800s, acutely aware of the probably shrinking impact of draining the peaty soil round Whittlesea Mere, William Wells, and different rich landowners, instigated the burial of a measurement publish at Holme Fen, which was anchored within the bedrock and minimize off on the soil floor. Immediately, round 4 metres of the publish is exhibiting above floor, recording the bottom subsidence since 1852. The bottom degree at Holme Publish is now 2.75 metres under sea degree – one of many lowest land factors in Nice Britain.

A number of points have arisen because of the drainage. Firstly, there was a huge effect in native ecology and biodiversity with the loss of a big space of wetland. Additionally, as the bottom degree subsided it grew to become much less sustainable to pump water up into the primary drain. The lack of peat has grow to be a significant concern, as a result of, as a carbon sink, peat is massively vital within the combat in opposition to international warming.

Peat varieties in waterlogged, acidic situations when layers of partially decomposed mosses and different lavatory vegetation accumulate. The method could be very sluggish; it could actually take as much as 1,000 years to type only one meter of peat. Nonetheless, round 60% of the world’s wetlands are product of peat. The vegetation which type peat seize carbon dioxide from the environment and because of this, giant portions of carbon are trapped within the peat. Nonetheless, if the peat is drained, it decomposes a lot quicker; releasing the saved carbon. Peat burning has the identical impact, however a lot quicker.

It has been estimated that the discount of peat loss within the Nice Fen, coupled with the capturing of carbon by vegetation is saving 325,000 tonnes of CO2 from being launched every year.

The undertaking can also be a very good instance of pure flood administration (NFM) as a result of it offers additional water storage after heavy rainfall, which slows water circulate and helps to guard surrounding cities, villages and farmland from the chance of flooding.

Water degree administration
The drainage of the fens incurred widespread ecological hurt, however the resolution is considerably extra sophisticated than merely elevating water ranges to create wetlands. Henry Stanier explains: “There are a variety of things that influence the restoration course of. Firstly, the geology of the world is sort of a layer cake, and every layer has completely different hydrological properties. Secondly, the Nice Fen contains numerous industrial farms, so you will need to perceive and handle their groundwater standing. Thirdly, the floor water requirement varies based on the time of yr, as a result of wants of all kinds of natural world, together with breeding birds. Fourthly, together with numerous companions, we’re conducting quite a few analysis applications, most of that are affected by water degree. For instance, we’ve got trial plots with raised water ranges, during which we’re investigating the efficiency of various plant species. These embrace Sphagnum or ‘lavatory moss’ which shops water, prevents the decay of lifeless plant materials and ultimately varieties peat, and we’re additionally trialling the wetland cropping potential of Glyceria fluitans, a sturdy perennial aquatic candy grass.”

A groundwater nicely.

Water degree monitoring
Working with a workforce of over 60 volunteers Henry delivers a monitoring program for the undertaking space, which is at present round 3,700 Hectares. 40 wells have been put in in strategic places, every to a depth of round 5 metres. 37 of those have OTT Orpheus Mini water degree loggers, which report groundwater degree each hour, daily of the yr. Henry collects the info from these loggers a couple of times per yr, or extra regularly the place the info is of better significance.

Three of the wells have been fitted with OTT ecoLog water degree loggers. These units have the flexibility to transmit each saved and reside information to a safe web site which Henry can entry with any internet-enabled machine at any time, and from anyplace. “It is a large benefit,” he explains. “With such a big space to cowl, subject visits could be time-consuming and subsequently pricey, so we set up the OTT ecoLogs within the wells of best curiosity, in order that we are able to, for instance, view the results on groundwater ranges once we switch floor water into an space.”

Henry’s workforce operates numerous trial plots by the dipwells; investigating how the vegetation is altering. His workforce additionally correlates groundwater ranges with vegetation progress, to be able to higher perceive optimum rising situations.

The Nice Fen space contains numerous industrial farms, which function each drainage and irrigation processes, so the groundwater monitoring program additionally helps to grasp the results of those actions. As well as, new farms are repeatedly acquired and included into the Nice Fen, so the monitoring work helps to handle the restoration of this land from agriculture to fenland.

Henry says: “Fenland restoration relies upon closely on a deep understanding of the geology and the water desk, and the results of water standing on the native ecology. The water degree monitoring that we undertake offers the info that underpins the science that informs the vital administration selections which can be made. The standard and reliability of the OTT water degree loggers is subsequently important, and we look ahead to increasing our community of screens because the undertaking continues to develop.”



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