Through the Oxfordshire Fens Project, we're working with a community of Oxfordshire-based experts, volunteers, land managers and landowners to protect the county's internationally important alkaline fen habitat for the future.
Thanks largely to its geology, Oxfordshire has an internationally important concentration of alkaline fen habitat. This is a rare type of wetland fed by springs emerging from limestone. However, alkaline fens are often small and isolated wetlands, which – together with their wetness – makes them difficult to manage. Many have been neglected, and the short open vegetation has been lost through development of tall species-poor fen or scrub and woodland.
The Oxfordshire Fens Project aims to reverse this by restoring sites and their plant and animal populations. We’re also building and sharing evidence about the state of the county’s fens and how best to protect them.
The state of Oxfordshire's alkaline fen
There are at least 64 alkaline fen sites in Oxfordshire, of which only 20% are legally protected.
Most sites are not in conservation management, and 27% have succeeded to woodland, mostly during the last 50-100 years.
3 Loss of habitat
At least 14.5 ha of alkaline fen habitat is thought to have been destroyed.
At least 54.4 ha of alkaline fen habitat is thought to have been lost to trees and scrub. These are sometimes called ‘ghost fens’.
At least 13.2 ha of alkaline fen is overgrown with Common Reed (Phragmites australis) or other rank species-poor wetland vegetation.
4 Remaining habitat
10.71ha of existing high quality alkaline fen habitat remains in the county
8.9ha of alkaline fen habitat is being actively restored
5 Species declines
At protected sites, richness of alkaline fen vascular plant species has declined by around a third, and richness of the county’s uncommon species has declined by around half
Of the county’s uncommon alkaline fen vascular plants, 80% have been lost from at least 50% of their historic sites and nearly 30% have been lost from at least 75% of historic sites
Freshwater Habitats Trust in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire has a rich wetland heritage. Find out more about our work to create, restore and protect its freshwater habitats,