Lowland Fens

Lowland fens are permanently waterlogged wetlands which receive water and nutrients from soil, rock and groundwater as well as rainfall.

Lowland Fen

Photo: Nick Hollingshead

Why are they important?

  • Lowland fen has declined dramatically and the UK has a large proportion on the European resource.
  • They have a mosaic of plant communities and some fens contain up to 550 species of higher plants.
  • Lowland fen is important for invertebrates including aquatic beetles and dragonflies.

Lowland Fens in Sussex

The area of lowland fen in Sussex is around 60 hectares and areas of lowland fen can be found in East and West Sussex, often alongside other wetland habitats such as marshy grassland and carr woodland.

What are the threats?

  • Drainage and conversion to intensive agriculture.
  • Lack of management resulting in succession to scrub and woodland.
  • Changes to hydrology resulting from excessive water abstraction and development.
  • Isolation and fragmentation.
  • Nutrient enrichment which can affect species composition.

Some associated species

  • Water Shrew Neomys fodiens
  • Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
  • Fen’s Wainscot Arenostola phragmitidis
  • Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva
  • Sphagnum moss Sphagnum spp.
  • Gypsywort Lycopus europaeus

Round-leaved Sundew

Photo: Laurie Jackson

Advice on lowland fens

Sussex Wetland Landscapes Project

Sussex Targets

Biodiversity Action Reporting System Website