Thanks to a generous funding boost from the Environment Agency, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is able to undertake a large-scale restoration project to improve and conserve a number of nationally rare habitats such as fen meadows and wet woodland at Fir & Pond Woods Nature Reserve.

The project at Fir & Pond Woods Nature Reserve near Potters Bar will restore and enhance the beautiful ancient meadow through conservation grazing by cattle and sheep as well as pond restoration. This will create ideal conditions for a huge array of wildlife, including dragonflies, bats and different birds such as reed bunting and sedge warbler.

The nature reserve, close to Potters Bar, supports a number of habitats rare in Hertfordshire including wet woodlands and lowland fens, the latter being one of the rarest in the county with less than 20 hectares left. Much of it has been lost to scrub or become degraded and species-poor due to a loss of grazing and cutting. New ponds will be created within the fen meadow to provide open-water habitat for dragonflies, damselflies and amphibians such as the legally protected great crested newts.

The project, estimated to be completed in spring 2020, will also engage the local community by providing opportunities to experience this precious habitat through guided walks and interpretation boards to enhance visits.

Laura Baker, Reserves Manager at the Trust, says: “Fir & Pond Woods Nature Reserve is a precious place but in desperate need of a large-scale restoration. This project will enhance the reserve not only for wildlife but also for the community.”

Fen meadows are marshy wetlands that receive water and nutrients from surface and groundwater as well as from rainfall. Although they support a huge variety of species, lowland fens are one of the rarest habitats in the county – less than 20 hectares are left – and designated priority habitats in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. With this restoration project, the Trust will contribute to Environment Agency national targets for habitat creation and the wetland habitat action plan for Hertfordshire.