Water has been the most influential factor in the development of the site
over the centuries as town drainage, water meadow and mill workings have
changed nature's original scheme. Now two legacy streams (St Michael's
Brook on the west and Floodstoc River on the east) convey high quality
chalk stream water into the upper site. These streams converge halfway
down the site and then flow out under Lockburn Stream and Keat's path into
the River Itchen.
Water is the 'life-blood' of Clausentum Fen. The shallow, fast flowing
streams are a nursery for important species that repopulate the Itchen.
The greatest threat to the fen is the restriction of St Michael's Brook
flow by sluices in the Mill leat above Garnier Road.
Diverse water life also requires a balance of good light for basic vegetation
and protective cover for the vulnerable predated species. Our plan addresses
the management of reliable water flows, sunlight and protective cover.
The site can be usefully described in four roughly equal zones:
Zone 1 beside Garnier Road is heavily wooded from its time as Priors Barton's
ornamental garden. Some TPO approved tree management is needed to improve
light for the stream and ground flora and the path between Garnier and
Clausentum Roads. Bird and bat boxes will be deployed here.
Zone 2 picks up St Michael's Brook after it has passed through the Priors
Barton gardens and the turns across the middle of the site. There is a
popular children's play area around the large, climbable beech tree and
the rest of the zone is either more open woodland or protective dogwood
scrub along the Floodstoc stream. Water flow and sunlight in the streams
are the key issues again.
Zone 3 is thickly litter-matted from years of sedge overgrowth. Ideally,
we would like to restore diverse wetland flora by extending the draining
of St Michael's Brook across its southern bank. The rapidly expanding bamboo
patch has been cut down and we have yet to determine the best practical
management approach (grazing v mowing and removing grasses) for this area.
Zone 4 lies across a high dividing bund and falls to the lowest level
of anywhere on the site. We aim to encourage amphibia, newts, water based
insects, dragonflies and small mammals with a standing water pond in the
centre of this zone.
Our overall goal is to establish Clausentum Fen as a Local Nature Reserve
supported by HCC. We aim to do this by managing the site to optimise its
biodiversity potential balanced with restoring its natural beauty and maintaining
its delightful children's play area and shortcut walk.
www.clausentumfen.co.uk is our information hub to inform, share, educate
and coordinate the 50-strong membership of the Clausentum Fen Conservation
Group. Much of our management can be achieved with volunteers but accurate
monitoring, fencing, tree work, bamboo root excavation and waterways require
external cooperation and funding.
Chairman's summary: Marcus Swalwell 20 March 2017
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