What's Happening

Conservation Update:

Ongoing work is necessary to prevent the Fen returning to a negleted and overgrown area dominated by nettles and brambles.

  • Nettle is an important food plant for many insects but you can have too much of a good thing and we are pulling up nettles where they are crowding out other plants.
  • Willow and sycamore seed wildly and we need to remove the seedlings where they are not wanted to maintain the open character of zone 3 and the western side of zone 4.
  • Invasive non-native species such as Himalayan Balsalm are pulled up at seedling stage before they have a chance to disperse more seeds. The seeds survive only for a couple of years so we would hope to see a reduction in the number of plants following removal of as many as we can find.
  • We have cleared a glade within the bramble area of zone 2 to provide a sheltered habitat for invertebrates.
  • The banks of St Michael's Brook are being cleared on a regular basis.
  • There is ongoing monitoring and recording or water levels, flows, freshwater invertebrates, plants, fungi, birds, insects, mammals...and whatever turns up!

Water entering the Fen from St Michael's Brook and the Lockburn stream via the Floodstoc is derived from the Itchen, which as a higher than ideal level of Nitrogen at about 7ppm. Much of this derives from the agricultural use of fertilisers which enter the chalk aquifers and are present in the Itchen headwaters. Nitrogen is a plant food which stimulates the growth of algae and aquatic grasses. We are monitoring the growth of these.


Volunteering to help manage our fen

We have a occassional Saturday morning slots 10.00-12.30 for volunteers to join in and help restore and maintain the fen. and during term there is also a regular session when we are joined on a Wednesday afternoon by volunteers from Winchester College.

Please see the formal risk assessment below if you are interested in helping out:

CFCG Conservation work risk assessment.


Work Party essentials

Clothing- depends on the weather but long trousers are essential. In winter old warm clothes, boots or wellingtons. Strong gloves if you have them, and a waterproof. Sun hats and cream in summer.

Food- bring some if you anticipate being hungry

Health and Safety- you should be reasonably fit. You attend at your own risk but we have never had any more serious problems than stings from nettles and scratches from brambles! The Fen is uneven and marshy in places underfoot and we will mainly be clearing vegetation. A Safety talk will be given at the start of each day if appropriate, covering tools, first aid, hazards etc. It is a good idea to be fully vaccinated for Tetanus. There are two diseases associated with working in the countryside and we advise the following sensible precautions.

Weil's Disease (Leptospirosis)is a bacterial infection caused by contact with urine from infected animals, such as rats, or through contaminated water. Bacteria enter the body through cuts in the skin or through the membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. To help prevent infection :
  • Ensure cuts and abrasions are cleaned and covered with a waterproof plaster.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash hands after contact with water and before eating.
Most cases are mild, with symptoms which include high temperature, chills, sudden headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, muscle pain, conjunctivitis, cough or a rash. Some cases are more severe and will need medical attention.

Lyme Diseaseis a bacterial infection contracted through a bite from an infected tick. To help prevent infection :
  • Wear long sleeves and trousers which tuck into boots.
  • Regularly check clothing and skin.
  • Remove ticks when seen by pulling as close to the skin as possible. Check again when home.
The most common symptom is a circular rash where the tick has bitten. Consult your GP if you develop flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, muscle or joint pains, headache, fever or chills, or neck stiffness.

Teenagers- under 16 year olds must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Parking- is available on Garnier Road.