WT8: Management of fen

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of fen option.

How much will be paid

£39 per hectare (ha)

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

Whole or part-parcel

Only on:

  • priority fen habitat in good condition
  • priority reedbed habitat in good condition and less than 2 ha
  • a mosaic of priority fen and reedbed habitat in good condition where total reedbed area does not exceed 2ha
  • fen and reedbed habitat (alone or combined) in poor condition where there is adequate water supply to restore appropriate water levels and the total reedbed area does not exceed 2ha

When this option cannot be used

  • areas of open water that are 1 ha or more
  • areas of reedbed greater than 2 ha

Features that can be included in this option

The following features can be included if they are part of the land, even if they are ineligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

  • ditches, drains or dykes that are less than 4m wide
  • a pond or standing water that’s under 1ha
  • rivers and streams that are less than 4m wide for the majority of their length in the parcel
  • bracken beds if control of these are included in the agreement
  • scrub or woodland if there is less than 5% cover or if control of these are included in the agreement

How this option will benefit the environment

It will help maintain and restore priority fen habitat and small areas of reedbed.

If successful there will be predominantly open fen vegetation, with occasional scrub. There may also be small open water features along ditch lines, water tracks and ponded areas. High water levels will be sustained by a natural, unpolluted water supply which will support a diverse range of target fen species.


Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • manage water levels and water supply
  • maintain any culverts, sluices, tidal flaps or bunds
  • manage scrub and vegetation to maintain a predominantly open habitat
  • dispose of cut material appropriately

The agreement will set out what must not be done. It is likely agreement holders will not be allowed to:

  • apply any fertilisers or manures
  • use pesticides and herbicides, except to spot-treat or weed-wipe to control injurious weeds, invasive non-natives, nettles or bracken

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • field operations at the parcel level, including associated invoices

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you haven’t carried out any activities prohibited by the option requirements.

The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.

The following options and supplements can be located on the same area as this option:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this option.

Fen is a diverse habitat type with different fen types depending on factors such as water chemistry, soil type, fertility, position in the landscape and historical management.

To maintain or restore fen appropriately consider the location and landscape setting. Identify the type of fen the option is aiming to conserve and enhance and set objectives and management appropriately.

Decide how best to manage and restore fens by taking into account:

  • how and where it sits in the wider landscape
  • how past modification and management have influenced the fen and the wildlife it supports
  • how the fen is supplied with water and how it drains
  • other landscape and management constraints such as flood risk, historic environment and landscape impact

Small fen sites are usually fragments of much larger wetlands and semi-natural landscapes so look for opportunities to extend and buffer existing fens by:

  • re-wetting areas with drained peat next to them
  • blocking or in-filling pipes or ditches that intercept springs or drain the fen

Account for the surroundings and neighbouring habitats to plan more coherent wetland units. Habitats can include lowland raised bog, wet grassland or wet woodland.

The character and condition of a fen is largely determined by water that comes from its catchment. Therefore it’s important that surrounding land is managed sympathetically and in ways that won’t damage the fen through pollution by nutrients or sediment runoff.

If the proposed management involves raising water levels, applicants should contact the Environment Agency before applying for this item.

Further information

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.