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The restoration of the fen

Redgrave and Lopham Fen is one of the most important wetlands in Britain. It supports some of the rarest wetland habitats in Europe, and a wealth of rare plants and animals. The last 40 years saw the near-demise of the Fen through drying out by a water abstraction borehole, by deep drainage of the River Waveney, which flows through the site, and by long term dereliction.

What was nearly a disaster has been turned into a unique conservation success story through the internationally acclaimed project to restore the fen.

The five objectives of the Fen Restoration Project


To re-establish the original fen water regime by moving the borehole.

To re-create the habitat conditions which will allow the most important fen communities to re-establish.

To raise water levels in the River Waveney and restore the river habitats.

To ensure that the new borehole provides a secure public water supply without damaging nearby wetlands.

To promote the project through publications, events, education, open access to the fen and publicity, and to publicise the technical innovations to other wetland managers and water resource engineers.

In-depth look at the restoration and the work undertaken

The restoration partnership

Showing the way forward

Apart from being a marvellous conservation success for the Fen itself, this Project shows how the intense competition for water between society and wildlife can be resolved by careful planning and direct action. Competition for water is becoming one of the key environmental issues, both here and abroad.

The restoration is a model to show how the voluntary sector, industry and the government can come together to solve tough environmental problems. In searching for and applying our solutions, we have used a range of innovative and imaginative measures, which are transferable to other wetland situations. It is this approach which is the hallmark of the project to save the fen.

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Creating a Living Landscape for Suffolk