Sutton and Catfield – a tale of two fens
In the Norfolk Broads, less than a kilometre apart, are two calcareous fens: Sutton and Catfield. Botanically rich calcareous fen is an important habitat for rare plants, and among the specialities of Sutton and Catfield Fens is the endangered and declining Fen Orchid. Ian Robinson, Tim Pankhurst, Richard Mason and Malcolm Ausden describe the wildlife and management of the two fens and the recent events that have led to changes in their vegetation.
Botanically rich calcareous fen is an incredibly special habitat only a very small area of which remains in western Europe. It has always been rare because of the unusual conditions under which it forms – in low-lying areas fed by base-rich and calcareous nutrient-poor surface water or groundwater. The calcareous fens that still exist are particularly vulnerable. They require suitable management in order to maintain their great floral diversity; and, importantly, the quantity and quality of calcareous water upon which these fens depend can be affected by water management elsewhere in their catchment.