The Fen

Clausentum Fen is part of the Itchen Valley chalk stream ecosystem but unfortunately has suffered from neglect resulting in a loss of biodiversity and species abundance. In 1992 when it was granted SINC (Site of Importance for nature Conservation) status, flocks of snipe would settle on the fen which was wet underfoot all year round. Linnets, reed bunting, bullfinches and spotted flycatchers were regularly seen. In the streams there were colonies of freshwater shrimp, brook lamprey, European eels, water voles and otters. Dragonflies and stag beetles regularly flew above Clausentum Road. There are still important species on the Fen today.

Life in the chalk streams which make this area so special need light, fast flowing water and a clean gravelly stream bed. Over the years the flow has become sluggish as the streams have become clogged with silt and decaying leaves, and trees have grown and now cast a deep shade over many of the watercourses. With reduced water flow into the fen the area has dried out, with trees and scrub spreading into the open area and coarse grasses taking the place of more delicate species. At the same time, invasive and non-native species such as Bamboo, Japanese knotweed and dogwood ( Cornus sibirica) have taken hold.

To restore the biodiversity of the area it is important to maintain a mosaic of different habitats. Woodland (dry and wet), open fen and marsh, grassland, and streams all have their own unique species.

Some BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species have been lost, others may still be present but not recorded recently. There is huge potential, if the habitats are restored, for the return of many of the notable species for which the adjacent Itchen Valley has been designated a SSSI (site of Special Scientific Interest) particularly water vole, otter, southern damselfly, Pipistrelle bats and birds of wet grassland. The Fen, sheltered away from the busy River Itchen and Lockburn stream provides a valuable sanctuary for endangered and timid species. For this reason we hope to protect habitats and restrict access to some of the most bio sensitive areas.