Friday, September 28, 2012

Today, forester and conservationist Everhard van Lidth de Jeude led the Nature Club (F)unschool group on a walk into Fairy Fen Nature Reserve (formerly Mystery Fen), with the intention of hanging up some signs there. They are very nice, metal-clad signs, welcoming visitors to Fairy Fen Nature Reserve, and alerting them to its status as a "Reserve", with icons declaring no cycling, no dirt-biking, and no ATV's. The kids were interested, and helped to carry the signs down, as Everhard led them through the woods toward the fen, explaining interesting natural and human processes as we witnessed their evidence along the way; pointing out various types of vegetation, etc. Then...

"What's that sound?"

"It sounds like a truck."

"A chainsaw?"

"No I think it's a quad."

We trekked into the Nature Reserve, and the sounds of the quad disappeared in the distance, but we immediately found the fresh clods of mud it had churned up, and its tracks leading away from the other "Fairy Fen Nature Reserve" signs hung by other Conservancy members.

What a learning experience for the kids!

Everhard then took us to the edge of the fen, and pointed out all sorts of interesting plant life; talked about the provenance of the fen and surrounding boggy new forest, from what was probably once a lake. He told us that somebody had come with expandable rods to measure the depth of the fen, but that he had stopped when he ran out of rods at about 8 feet. We went around the fen, to find the site of a long-ago landslide, and deep grooves in the mountainside probably caused by logs being hauled down the slope when the place was logged many decades ago.

And all the way around the fen, the kids made note of the small devastations (and litter) left by quads and bikes. Fairy Fen was made a preservation area for a reason; it's a sensitive ecosystem and a beautiful area, and it's especially suitable for helping our island's youth to understand the importance of our natural home. Today they learned about its fragility and its need for protection.

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