Wetland in a Wetland

Discussions are underway to modify the 15 acre Cadboro-Gyro Park so that it includes a wetland.

The purposes of the proposed wetland are noble.  The fact sheet asks for a wetland that will:

  • increase habitat,
  • facilitate new recreational and educational opportunities,
  • contribute significantly to the park’s ecological integrity and
  • mitigate extended flooding within the park.

The park has been the subject of several reviews in the past, most of which were triggered by concerns
related to flooding, underground service lines, and maintenance. It is noted that development and maintenance of the park is extremely challenging due to::

  • unstable peat soils,
  • a high water table, and
  • stormwater and tidal influences.

What is ironic about all of this is that the entire park is actually a wetland already and that some state of  “flooding” is normal for the entire area most of the year.

Cadboro-Gyro Park was developed in a fen alongside an ocean. Fens are peatlands. Peats  are very, very stable–unless you try to put a highway or train track  over them. And guess what?

Fens are characterized by:

  • peat soils,
  • a high water table,
  • stormwater and tidal influences.

Fens are one of the four main kinds of wetlands. They are characterized by being fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater and by the fact that over time they develop beds of peat which help absorb and disperse the groundwater which in turn supports the specific kinds of plants which, very slowly, form the peat. Fens are different from marsh wetlands in that they are shallower and that the fauna develops on or near the surface. They are distinguished from bogs in that bogs are fed solely by rain and are thus acidic whereas fens are neutral or alkali. When drained in whole or in part, fens make very good farmland.

The following activities are not normal in fens or are difficult to accomplish: roads, paved areas, railroads, buildings, parking lots, golf courses, playgrounds, grassy parks. Any of these detract from “the ecological integrity” of the park.

Natural fens are very useful for: mitigating the effects of storms and heavy rainfalls, providing a home for diverse fauna and wildlife, the growing of sedges, reeds and osiers for commercial purposes, cleaning up contaminated water, storing carbon.

The natural purpose of this fen for many years was to receive the surplus water from three or four hundred acres on higher ground to the north west.  The fen wetland before HBC and farm settlements would have been much larger in 1850 and it was farmed quite successfully until housing and shops began to expand in the f1950’s.

For centuries, this “surplus” water would have nourished the plants covering the tens of acres of fens which ran parallel to the shore. Given that much of that original fen is now built up and that the farms of the uplands have been covered with houses and roads and parking lots, the ratio between  the land receiving groundwater and the land drained has decreased enormously: let us say (without any detailed calculation) from 1 to 6 down to 1 to 60. Except for the 15 acres of the park, all of the original fen is now covered in houses and roads.

Logically, since all 15 acres of park are actually a wetland now, the park design should be quite different than is now proposed. This is not Beacon Hill. This  is a peatland/wetland and what lies under the surface is as much a part of that wetland as the water that often floods the planted grass as nature tries to move things back to their more natural state.

Sand and beach.

The beach is a natural dividing land and should serve its original purposes as summer recreation for the people and a winter dog-walking haven. It should be celebrated and made as accessible as possible for individuals. It should be expanded where feasible as each small bay or indentation increases the available space for summer recreation.

Parking.

Parking for cars should be eliminated or moved to the older parts of the fen, along Cadboro Bay Road. One house has been bought and two or three more could be purchased contiguous to the Cadboro Bay Road entrance. Walking is healthy.

Boats.

Boat storage could remain as a buffer between the existing housing and the park. So this buffer area might well take up two or three acres in whole but the goal should be to minimize the built/paved area and maximize the wetland.

Playgrounds.

The play area should remain where it as, as that terrain is almost part of the sandy beach terrain. Or, it could move or expand to the buffer area. The scout house is on a lease so must stay where it is for the time. When it goes, that would be a good site for washrooms.

Washrooms.

Washrooms have been solidly established and in any case the part of the wetland where they sit has been damage has been damaged. So they might as well stay rather than damaging another location.

Paving.

No area should be “paved”  as currently planned. That would be very expensive and detract from “ecological integrity.” To pave over peat you need to bring in tons of sand, let it sit there for a year or two until the peat compresses, take away the sand, and then pave. For the same amount of money, you could restore ten acres of fen.

Peat.

The existing peat beds should be mapped in detail and restoration goals should be set for their health and development. Appropriate wetland species should be planted over at least 8 acres of the existing part which would be more than enough area to properly establish a fen wetland with some substantial “ecological integrity”. We need to start adding to the peat again.

Trees.

No trees should be planted and existing trees should be removed where they are invasive and contribute to peat degradation. The invasion of trees marks the end of the wetland character of any particular wetland except a swamp and the types of trees which grow in swamp wetlands are not particularly attractive. While trees are considered “green” in all cases, in fact they do not contribute at all to the ecological integrity of a wetland.

Waterflow.

In the past, there very likely was a marsh wetland portion or portions of the fen between the main fen and the ocean. If a true wetland is created, there should be a number of ponds and waterways within the vegetation. The general flow of water from outside the fen should be into the fen from outside, through the fen, and eventually, as clean water, into the ocean. This entails somewhere, towards the middle of the beach, a fen-marsh-ocean transition area.

Access.

Access to the beach should be mainly by foot or bicycle. There should be a large area for bicycle storage near the foot of Sinclair. There is an extensive literature about walkways through fens in Holland, England, Scotland and elsewhere.

Fundamentals:

Almost all of the planned developments lessen the “ecological integrity” of these 15 acres. These 15 acres represent the last segment of a major fen/marsh wetland that lasted for tens of centuries and that covered at least 150 acres.  We can seize the moment and create a true wetland  or we can pave and grass over most of this land and build a pseudo-wetland with a plastic liner in one corner of the park, first of all excavating all the peat.

This is a radical proposal in the circumstances but it is the logical outcome of an emphasis on ecological integrity and the management of “surplus” water.

lowtide-Cadboro-Bay-2-2011-07-30-Cadboro-Bay-Beach-view

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Prevost Gite

This house is our country home for our two vineyards, especially when we have visitors. But it is very large, so we rent out parts of it from time to time.

The house is from 1907 but has been much expanded over the years and restored a number of times.

There are three units. The one we rent is the main apartment of over 1,800 square feet, surrounded by a verandah and with views of Cowichan Bay in the distance.

We rent it out as a Gite. A farm apartment where you are responsible for your own meals.

  • As shown below this apartment has a large kitchen and dining area.
  • A beautiful living room with art and a piano.
  • A modern bathroom with local marble tile: bath and shower.
  • A spacious bedroom with a double bed.
  • There is wi-fi and a washer and dryer.
  • Heat is by a wood furnace.

It is about ten minutes from downtown Duncan and five minutes from the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 18 (to Lake Cowichan).

The House.                                                                                                                                The Porch with Wisteria

 

 

The Porch with Wisteria

 

View Out from the Dining Area.                                                                                                                                                                    The Cafe

 

The Kitchen Area

 

The Dining Area

 

The Living Room

 

 

The Living Room

 

Bedroom

 

Bathroom                                                                                                                                                    Visitors

 

FENS. Part 1.

hay sedge planthay sedge

My interest in fens is growing. I am restructuring my posts on this subject. Dave Godfrey

1.  General Introduction

Fen: a fen  is a type of wetland, a broad expanse of nutrient-rich, ground-fed  shallow water in which dead plants do not fully decay, resulting in a flora of emergent plants growing in saturated peat. The other 3 types of wetlands are bogs, swamps, and marshes.

Simply put: swamps and marshes have lots of water, salt or fresh. Swamps have trees. Bogs and fens have saturated soil. The water in a bog comes from rain water. The water in a fen comes from ground water and/or flowing water. Fens are rich in nutrients and can be grazed in perpetuity if proper managed.

Wicken-Fen-Hide-meadow

Good video introductions to Fens

Wildlife: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdFeQaSeDl4

General: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cxmYYReNe8

Cycling the fen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmEocg3OW1I  Turn the volume down.

Dung digging: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRsSGwCojBA  Why grazing is good for fens.

Wild bees at Wicken: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=445FH_RqWDs

Wicken Windmill in song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpUxFH3RfhI

2. Wetlands in General

{habitat_image_alt}CAREXoshimensis
Wetlands form over any land whose soil is either seasonally or permanently waterlogged. This can happen alongside rivers, across floodplains, where there are springs and seepage, a high water table or tidal incursion.

Water-logging tends to exclude oxygen from the soil and plants have evolved many ways to deal with this, leading to the evolution of hundreds of specialist wetland and waterside species.

Wetland habitats include marshes, fens, bogs, water-meadows and any muddy place by water; they  often include systems of aquatic habitats such as ditches, rills and streams which can also be important for plants. Wetland complexes in the UK such as the Broads, Somerset and Pevensey Levels, form extensive networks of habitats which are rich in many other forms of wildlife. Canada has an extremely diverse set of wetlands in all parts of the country. Holland and the UK lead in Fen restoration.

3. Wetland Habitat features

1, Bogs

Upland and Lowland bogs are characterised by the dominance of Sphagnum moss species, which lay down layers of bog peat as they grow. Sphagnum acidifies its own environs and so bog systems are populated with plants that can cope with base-poor, acid waters. In England, upland blanket-bogs cover more than 10,000 hectares of land and are hugely significant in the landscape.

2. Fens and reedbeds

This kind of habitat occurs in river valleys and floodplains that are not conducive to the development of Sphagnum dominated vegetation. Sedges and rushes tend to dominate and common reed is a prominent species, although its abundance is greatly affected by management; fens and reedbeds have a very long history of traditional management, some being grazed but many cut for ‘fen litter’ or ‘marsh-hay’, a product that went for feed and bedding for the many thousands of horses that once populated our towns and cities. Fen-litter and saw-sedge, another traditional fen product, are both cut in late summer, which suppresses reed growth; however winter cutting encourages reed growth and leads to such dominance that the reed can be harvested in bulk for thatching.

3. Wet woodland

Mature wet woodland is a rarity, as opposed to swampy woodlands, and isoften restricted to the margins of fens and marshes and the fringes of slow moving rivers. Typically dominated by alder or willow, it can be a species-rich habitat, especially where it occurs at one end of a complete transition from open water to woodland.

4. Water meadows and wet grasslands

Although often badly affected by agricultural improvement, these grasslands can form extensive systems in river valleys and the lower parts of river floodplains. Associated with traditional extensive grazing regimes, where intervening ditches are maintained as ‘wet-fences’, such grassland networks form some of the most intact wetland systems.

5. Farmable wetlands.

UCC farm pic

Some wetlands, in some seasons, can be quite productive. It has been estimated that the full value of wetlands in terms of annual benefits is in the order ten to fifteen thousand dollars a hectare. The Cadboro Bay fen was used mainly for pasturing and  the production of sedge-hay also termed meadow hay.

SedgeCutting

4. Transition

Wetlands may be seen as transitional stages moving from open water towards woodland. The technical term hydrosere is used to describe a succession which starts in water. A wetland is a transitional area between open water and dry land and may contain several stages of a hydrosere at the same time. Some studies add a fifth type: shallow open water.

In time, an area of open freshwater such as a lake or marshy sea shore may become woodland. During this process, a range of different habitats such as marshes and fens may succeed each other. Peat usually accumulates slowly, at the rate of about a millimetre per year.

This succession from open water to climax woodland is likely to take at least several thousand years although some intermediate stages will last a shorter time than others. For instance, a shallow swamp may change to marsh within a decade or less. How long it takes will depend largely on the amount of siltation occurring and whether storms and tides scour out established vegetation from time to time.

If there are five or six feet of peat beneath Gyro Park, one can be sure that it has been a long time since the area was a marsh. However, the calculation is complex since after the last Ice Age, the island rose but so did the sea levels.

5. Key issues

Perhaps the single most influential factor in the loss of wetlands is drainage. Wetland soils, particularly fen peats, make fine agricultural soils if the water can be got rid of. This has of course already happened across many tens of thousands of hectares of former wetland habitat, with unfortunate consequences in terms of soil loss through oxygenation and shrinkage, windblow and carbon release.

The flower-richness of wetland habitats is dependent also on good water quality. Where wetlands are fed by rivers which pass through towns and cities and intensively farmed agricultural areas, high nutrient concentrations in the water cause a few species to outgrow the majority, leading to a rapid decline in floral diversity.

Abstraction of water from underground sources can reduce supplies of water to spring fed systems. . This leads to a gradual drying out, loss of water-dependent species and ultimately to complete loss of the wetland habitat. Water-levels can often be restored quite quickly, with the withdrawal of abstraction, but this does not necessarily lead to a restoration of former vegetation, mainly due to the oxygenation and breakdown of formerly water-logged soils.

Changes in agriculture and the way people live their lives has led to a decline (and in some cases almost complete loss) in markets for traditional fen produce. This has led to fens becoming uneconomic to manage in the traditional way, leading to conversion to agriculture or abandonment.

Recently, however, analysis of methods of carbon storage have revitalized interest in the peat bogs which cover 3%  of the earth’s surface and store an estimated 550Gt of carbon. Drainage of peatlands leads to mineralisation of carbon and nitrogen from the peat, releasing the greenhouse gases CO2 and N2O to the atmosphere and thus contributing significantly to global warming. It is estimated that such land use induced changes are responsible for 6 % of anthropic CO2 emissions, with well-known hotspots in south-east Asia (SEA) and central and eastern Europe (CEE). It is also well known that rewetting of drained peatlands can increase carbon storage.

The International Mire Conservation Group produces a reputable (and free) journal covering wetlands world wide. Here is a review from that journal of the carbon credits and peatland restoration question. http://www.mires-and-peat.net/map11/map_11_br_03.pdf

6. LIST OF FEN PLANTS

Yellow Flag

220px-Iris_pseudacorus_001

In pools

In typical fen

In fen carr

General article on sedge: carex: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carex

7. Canadian Expertise.

Canada has a large percent of the world’s peatlands.

Despite continued detrimental impact to wetlands, Canada still has over 127 million hectares of wetland comprising
an estimated 24% of the total world wetland base.

For a long time, Canada was a leader in wetland research, but this expertise is now in decline. One great book from the golden era is this one:

http://www.gret-perg.ulaval.ca/fileadmin/fichiers/fichiersGRET/pdf/Doc_generale/Wetlands.pdf

8. Bluedale

To get an idea of plants you can grow for your own wetland, check out this great (Australian) site on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluedale-Wholesale-Nursery/149284481811934

Westringa video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbR7op5u2gc&list=UUqoGgTBQ7tfyg5FdvPL2N6g

Juncus usitatus

juncus usitatus at bluedale

Or this one in California: sedge plants available:

http://www.smgrowers.com/search/bsearchcarex.asp?strSearchText=carex

List of grasses and sedges in the Fraser Valley:

http://www.natureguidesbc.com/files/Grasses.pdf

9. British Columbia

Environment BC has done some good work on wetlands, but again, in the past decade, this seems to have fizzled. The following excerpts are from a useful document: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/WEG_Oct2002_s.pdf

Although British Columbia has large areas of natural wetlands, the situation in urbanized areas is critical.

Wetlands are one of the most important life support systems on earth. Currently comprising about 5.6% or 5.28 million hectares of British Columbia, they provide critical habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. Most wildlife in the province use wetland habitat at some point in their life cycle, and many red- and blue-listed species are wetland-dependent.

Creston Wetlandslowtide-Cadboro-Bay-2-2011-07-30-Cadboro-Bay-Beach-view
The functional contribution of wetlands in helping to minimize or remediate environmental problems is substantial. They absorb and filter sediments, pollutants, and excess nutrients; recharge groundwater; maintain stream flows; control runoff; store flood waters; reduce erosion; stabilize shorelines; and help regulate atmospheric gases and climate cycles. In short, wetlands absorb water quickly and release it slowly with an improvement in quality.

Wetlands provide for commercial and recreational use of wetland-dependent fish and shellfish, enhance agricultural productivity, and support a variety of scientific , educational and recreational opportunities. Environmental economists such as Robert Costanza have used various methods to estimate the economic market and non-market values of the goods and services of various ecosystems. For wetlands, the total value is estimated to be $19,580 hectare/year (1994 US$). Using this figure to estimate the goods and services value of wetlands, British Columbia’s total wetland surface area of 5.28 million hectares would yield a potential value of over $100 billion/year. At a local level such as the Fraser Valley, the total wetland surface area of 41,906 hectares would yield a potential goods and services value to society of over $800 million/year.

There is a growing concern over the escalating rate of wetland losses in British Columbia. In the Fraser Vancouver Island, it is estimated that 50% to 70% of the original wetland habitat has disappeared. In the ecologically critical South Okanagan, wetland losses have reached 85%.

Action is required to help reduce wetland losses and provide for coordinated conservation and management efforts. Because wetlands occur across a range of ecosystem types and can be affected by various land use activities, a comprehensive approach is needed to ensure the protection and management of wetlands. It is intended that several initiatives currently under development, including the Biodiversity Strategy, Species At Risk Strategy, the Living Rivers Strategy, as well as ongoing Land Use Planning and Protected Areas management, will all play an important role in protecting, maintaining and restoring wetlands.

10. Capital Region District

Another good summary. http://www.crd.bc.ca/watersheds/ecosystems/wetlands.htm

Map of watersheds: http://www.crd.bc.ca/watersheds/publications/documents/GreaterVictoriaWatersheds.pdf

11. Local

Mystic vale and Hobbs Creek.

There were once salmon here. A great detailed study is here: http://www.urbanecology.ca/documents/Student%20Technical%20Series/Oliver%20hannah%20final.pdf

A local report from 2005: http://www.islandnet.com/~thelynns/cbra/minutes/cbramin_2011_01_10_mystic_pond.pdf

Another summary of what could/should be down with Mystic Vale and Hobbs Creek: http://web.uvic.ca/enweb/undergraduate/pdf/MysticVale.11.09.pdf

Another group doing interesting work on communities: http://mapping.uvic.ca/welcome/committee

Some other very  interesting comments are in comments below.

Revision:

(April 22nd to 29thth, 2013.)

FENS 1

astdragon.org
BIODIVERSITY REFERENCE
British habitats
 
   Fens   
 
(page 1)

Distribution: Throughout the world wherever there is sufficient rainfall to support wetland communities. Scattered throughout Britain and Ireland, famously in East Anglia, but often in fragmentary state.

View across litter fields, Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire, July 1997. The litter fields here are cut annually or biennially and are dominated by grasses such as Purple Small-reed (Calamagrostis canescens) and Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea, especially subsp. arundinacea). They contain a rich diversity of tall herbs. Creamy-white patches of Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) are visible in the distance and beyond is carr with Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and Grey Sallow (Salix cinerea subsp. cinerea) along with Birch (Betula pubescens).

DEFINITIONS

An immediate problem in providing any brief summary of fens is that ecologists themselves differ in how they use the term. Firstly it is necessary to distinguish “fen” as an ecological term from “Fenland” as a geographical entity.

Fenland, a geographical area of East Anglia
Geographically, Fenland is the ancient area of marshes on the vast floodplain that surrounded the rivers Witham, Welland, Nene and Ouse (and their subsidiaries) that drain much of central and eastern England and flow into the Wash between Norfolk and Lincolnshire. It is or was an area of several hundred square miles (3800 km2 according to Good & Ratcliffe, in Ratcliffe, 1977), and in postglacial times evidently continued much further still into what is now the North Sea. It extended from Lincolnshire in the north to Norfolk in the southeast, encompassing much of the geographical (no longer political) county of Huntingdonshire and part of Cambridgeshire.
Perhaps one indication of the immensity of the area is the myth and legend surrounding Hereward the Wake, an ancient “Robin Hood-like” folk hero or outlaw who operated out of the Fens and who fortunately has not yet been subjected to the same recent historical and cultural media travesties as Robin Hood.

Little of this ancient area now exists. Most is now arable farmland, a flat landscape of huge fields and drainage dykes, with few natural hedges and with scattered, surprisingly isolated human communities. A few fragments remain to provide most of our finest British examples of “fen” as an ecological concept. These include Chippenham Fen and Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire and Holme and Woodwalton Fens in Huntingdonshire, all of which are National Nature Reserves, though Wicken Fen, the most accessible of these, is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Although this present account is wider in concept, examples and photographs here are currently all from the geographical Fenland. An excellent account of the history, ecology and present/past management of fens by Godwin (1978) refers entirely to Fenland.

Though outside Fenland as defined here, there are a number of named fens stretching further east in Norfolk across to the Norfolk Broads, generally as parts of valley mire complexes. Many of the fenland rarities are or were to be found in both areas.

Fens as an ecological concept
Ecologists regularly use the word “fen” but establishing a precise definition is more difficult, reflecting the diversity and continuity of habitat and vegetation types. Generally, however, use of the term equates to the majority of topogenous mires, where local relief results in permanently high water tables, as on flood plains and in shallow depressions, or in transitional zones of vegetation bordering open waters. Smaller areas of fen may also occur within soligenous mires associated with routes of moving drainage water. It is understood here that any type of mire is generally characterised by peat formation, i.e. the build up of incompletely decomposed organic matter under conditions of waterlogging and negligible diffusion of oxygen, though in fact, as Wheeler & Proctor (2000) emphasise, some soligenous fens accumulate little or no peat, though are otherwise similar in hydrochemistry and vegetation.

The East Anglian fens are characterised by alkaline conditions resulting from water draining from chalk and other calcareous rock formations. They (and similar examples elsewhere) may be distinguished as “rich fen“, though there is often a general understanding that a “fen” will be relatively eutrophic (nutrient rich). A classic plant of rich fen is Saw-sedge (or simply “Sedge”) (Cladium mariscus), which may be a key species in past or present management (see below). The definition of “fen” however often also covers sites with much lower mineral input and corresponding higher acidity; such areas may be described as “poor fen” and are commonly characterised by extensive development of Sphagnum moss carpets.

(It may be noted in passing that “poor fen” should not be confused with a “Poor’s Fen”, which at Wicken and elsewhere was a name given to a specific area of a fen where the village poor, lacking other rights, were still able to cut peat or harvest sedge.)
This variation and often imprecision of terminology has been examined by Wheeler & Proctor (2000), who make a number of recommendations. In examining a wide range of mire types they find a bimodal distribution of pH that backs up the rather vague existing concepts of “fen” and “bog”.

They consider fen to be defined by a pH generally above 6.0 and with relatively high levels of calcium and bicarbonate ions. The vegetation of such mires tends to be rich in herbs and ‘brown mosses’ (they cite DrepanocladosCampylium and Scorpidium, and Cratoneuron also should be included).

By contrast, bog is defined by a pH generally below 5.0, with low levels of calcium ions, and with chloride and sulphate ions as the main anions. Vegetation includes members of the heather family (CallunaErica etc.), cotton-grasses (Eriophorum) and other calcifuge (“calcium-avoiding”) members of the sedge family, and often an abundance of Sphagnum mosses.
On this definition, many examples of so-called “poor fen” or “acid fen” are better considered as “bog” and this gives a more satisfactory treatment of phases and microtopography in complex acid mire systems.
THE PLANT COMMUNITIES

A detailed account of British fen types and their plant communities is provided by Wheeler (1984). Only outline summaries are given here.
The communities recognised in the National Vegetation Classification are given by Rodwell et al. (1995).

Herbaceous fen (including open reed and sedge fens)
The open fens are usually dominated by tall reedlike grasses, such as Common Reed (Phragmites australis), Small-reeds (Calamagrostis species) or Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea), or by tall sedges such as Carex acutiformis or C. disticha, or by Saw-sedge (Cladium mariscus), or locally by the Blunt-flowered Rush (Juncus subnodulosus). A variety of other tall herbs such as Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) may be present, perhaps along with declining rarities such as the Marsh Pea (Lathyrus palustris). Below the field layer is likely to be a layer of mosses, including Campylium and Cratoneuron species. This may be a transitional phase or may be maintained by appropriate management.

Marsh Pea (Lathyrus palustris)
A nationally scarce herb of rich fens, largely confined to eastern England and East Anglia and scattered in a very few coastal fens elsewhere. Lost through drainage (and perhaps nitrogen enrichment?) from many of its former sites (see Mountford in Stewart et al., 1994). Its narrow leaves are, however, very difficult to spot amongst tall fen vegetation and even when in flower it is often not a conspicuous plant. It may await discovery at other sites.
Photograph: Wicken Fen, July 1997.

Traditional management of many of the East Anglian fens has been the cutting of ‘Sedge’ (Cladium), primarily for thatch. Sedge is more flexible and durable than reed and was used for ridging reed-thatched roofs or, less often, for thatching entire roofs. It also had uses as kindling material and as a tough litter for floor coverings. Large areas were maintained for this purpose and the survival of undrained fen fragments no doubt has been due to the value of sedge as a crop. However, there is now much less demand and former sedge fens have in many cases been colonised by bushes to form carr. This has meant the local disappearance of many plants requiring these open conditions and is implicated in the extensive loss of invertebrates such as the Swallowtail Butterfly (see below). While there is still a small commercial demand, cutting sedge is now largely a conservation exercise. Management aims at, e.g. Wicken Fen, are not only to maintain sedge fens but also to reclaim areas from carr and extend the open communities.

Sedge (Cladium) fen, Chippenham Fen, Cambridgeshire, 1980
Saw-sedge (or “Sedge”) (Cladium mariscus)
On the edge of a drainage dyke.
Wicken Fen, July 1998.
Conservation volunteers cutting a sedge field at Wicken Fen, July 1997

The areas dominated by grasses such as Calamagrostis species or Molinia were traditionally cut as “litter” for animal bedding. Like the sedge fens they tend to be herb-rich and continued cutting on an annual or biennial cycle is required to maintain floristic diversity.

As noted above, poor fens (if considered “fens” at all) are likely to have a moss layer including or dominated by Sphagnum species. Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata) and the smaller sedges, such as C. echinata and C. nigra may predominate amongst the vascular plants.

Carr (wooded fen)
Succession to carr (wet scrub and swampy woodland) is usually to be expected except where active management maintains the open areas. Lowered water tables caused by drainage within or adjacent to the fen complex may accentuate this and since most surviving fens are surrounded by farmland, this may be a substantial management problem.

Bushes and trees forming carr must be capable of growing in waterlogged conditions with little oxygen supply to the roots. Willows and sallows (Salix species) may predominate, including Grey Sallow (S. cinerea subsp. cinerea), which often dominates East Anglian fens and occurs more locally north to central Scotland.

Grey Sallow (Salix cinerea subsp. cinerea) carr, Wicken Fen, July 1997. The butterfly is a Comma (Polygonia c-album).
Comma (Polygonia c-album)
The same individual as shown in the photograph above. The Comma is by no means exclusively a fen butterfly, indeed it is widespread and locally common across much of southern England and Wales, but carr woodlands seem to suit it. No doubt this is partly because its main foodplant, the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is usually present in some abundance on the carr margins and along the droves (cut pathways).
There is some evidence it is currently increasing its range northwards, with recent scattered records in southern Scotland (including one individual in riverside scrub here in Paisley during the 1990s).

Two buckthorn species, the Common or Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and the Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) are also locally abundant carr species in some of the East Anglian Fens. Common Buckthorn is not confined to fen carrs; it can be a component of scrub on dry chalk slopes. Alder Buckthorn is more restricted to damper habitats.

Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) in mixed carr, Wicken Fen, July 1998.

At Wicken, both were abundant in the first part of the 20th century and Rhamnus still is, locally being the dominant carr species. Frangula, however, suffered a decline through apparent fungal attack in the 1930s and has suffered other misfortunes since (Friday, 1997). It is currently a typical pioneer species in young carr and appears to be recovering its former status.

Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a larger tree that may come to dominate richer fens in some localities. It is notable as possessing rood nodules containing a symbiotic nitrogen-fixing actinomycete. Nitrogen may otherwise be deficient during development of fen woodland.
In poor fen, the shrub Bog Myrtle or Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) is no doubt even more important as another species that effects nitrogen enrichment via symbiosis.

On poorer sites, Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) is likely to become the dominant tree species, sometimes forming more or less pure woodland on the thicker peats.

Birch carr with Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), here with Saw-sedge (Cladium mariscus) dominating the ground vegetation but no doubt suffering from the drying and more shaded conditions. Photograph: Holme Fen, Huntingdonshire, 1967.

FENS TWO

lastdragon.org
BIODIVERSITY REFERENCE
British habitats
 
   Fens   
 
(page 2)

ACCESS: DROVES AND WATERWAYSAs already indicated, most large fens have a past history of extensive management. Small fens or those in valley mires may be relatively natural, but a history of peat cutting or sedge harvesting requires routes of access. Water levels in the same fen systems have required control. Consequently the geographical Fenland has an ancient system oflodes, navigable waterways, some apparently dating back to Roman times. Subsidiary to these are dykes, which when clear may be able to take small boats, and additional drainage ditches. Cut routes through the fen are droves and again some are at least a few hundred years old. They provide a continuing short turf habitat and may support a flora of small sedges, rushes and herbs that cannot compete in taller vegetation.

Wicken Lode, an ancient, continually navigable waterway, now mainly used by holiday barges. It is bordered by the Lode Bank, a drove which itself is of substantial age. It is higher and dryer than most of the Fen droves, which are often temporarily flooded in the winter months. Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire, May 1998.

The waterways are of great importance for their aquatic fauna and flora. The smaller dykes and ditches are readily colonised by submerged and floating-leaved aquatic plants, including, in rich fens, populations of local or rare stoneworts (Charophyta). The invertebrate fauna may be equally diverse. Further colonisation by taller aquatic macrophytes such as the Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is likely and the probability is that the dykes will become clogged with vegetation and silt. At length they may be crossable on foot and their value for water management, and indeed for their fauna and flora is lost. A cyclic programme of clearance maintains the waterways and ensures continuing habitat for rare species.

Water Violet (Hottonia palustris) amongst other aquatic macrophytes colonising a drainage dyke. Wicken Fen, May 1998.

CONSERVATION

Open water and flood-plain mires have probably been more extensively destroyed by man in Britain than those of any other class. This is especially true of the once vast swamps and marshes of the East Anglian Fenlands, occupying the large shallow basin of the three main rivers draining to the Wash. Many others have been reclaimed for agriculture, since the richer types of fen peat give a very fertile soil when dried out, and a great many have been partly drained or modified by human activity.
(Goode & Ratcliffe, in Ratcliffe, 1977)

Ratcliffe does go on to make the point that the Norfolk Broads owe their present existence to human activity. Large scale cutting of peat in the Middle Ages formed extensive hollows that have flooded and undergone succession, now forming important habitats from open water to rich fen and carr.

Mire surfaces are often sensitive to disturbance and uncontrolled public access can cause considerable damage to vegetation and to ground nesting birds. Trampling damage can be reduced by provision of boardwalks, which also have the effect of controlling the route taken by casual visitors.

Wicken Fen, being (mostly) owned by the National Trust, is managed to allow public access, which must then be balanced against conservation necessities. A circular nature trail via boardwalks takes visitors through most of the main habitats, permits access to the windpump and bird hides and ensures minimal damage to the Fen. Effectively the boardwalk is also a bridge across much of the wetter ground and (usually) means that waterproof footwear is not necessary. Wicken Fen, July 1998.
This particular section of the boardwalk has been replaced and re-routed since the taking of this photograph.

The dramatic loss of fenland habitat has taken its inevitable toll with regard to the specialist plants and animals of such habitats. Senecio congestus, the Marsh Fleawort, was once a plant of fen ditches in the Lincolnshire and East Anglian fenlands but is long extinct. A second Senecio species, S. paludosus, the Great Fen Ragwort, was also thought long extinct until a very few plants appeared on a cleared ditchbank in Cambridgeshire in 1972, evidently from long-buried seed. The population has been maintained and plants have been transferred to a safer location, though it is reasonable to expect that the surviving British stock is genetically impoverished. Other plants such as the Fen Orchid, Liparis loeselii and the Fen Violet, Viola persicifolia are critically endangered.

Predictably there are a number of birds confined to fen habitats. The East Anglian fens are the main British stronghold of the Bearded Tit (Panurus biarmicus), a species of reed-beds. Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinoides) is another reed-bed species that once bred in the Fenlands before becoming extinct in Britain. It has re-established itself in Britain since the 1950s, with Wicken Fen being a key site. The Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) is arguably the special bird of prey of the East Anglian fens. After coming close to extinction from use of cyclodiene agricultural pesticides, populations are now recovering following banning of these chemicals from agricultural use.
THE RÔLE OF THE ENTOMOLOGISTS

It was, however, the entomological interest of the East Anglian fens that first led to preservation of surviving fragments as nature reserves. The strong interest, particularly in butterflies and moths, during the 1800s meant that not only were the fens much visited, but also that sedge cutters were able to supplement their incomes by finding and selling larvae of the more sought after species. As the old Fenlands were turned so rapidly into productive agricultural land, it was the entomologists who first seem to have realised the value of holding onto and preserving some remnant of the old watery wilderness. The Swallowtail butterfly became a symbol of such efforts, though as it turned out, “preservation” of its remaining Cambridgeshire location was not enough, conservation through management was also needed and was sadly lacking in the early years of the 1900s. Other species, such as the Large Copper butterfly and the Reed Tussock moth were already extinct in Britain before any thought was given to conserving the Fens.

The Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) is now confined in Britain to the Norfolk Broads, though it was once also a classic butterfly of the geographical Fenland and persisted at Wicken Fen until the 1950s. Its distribution is necessarily limited by that of its foodplant, the Milk Parsley (Peucedanum palustre), which itself is a nationally scarce species, virtually confined to the old Fenland and the Norfolk Broads and extinct in most of the northern part of its range.

The Milk Parsley is a plant of rich fen, growing in sedge and litter fields and dependent on suitable cutting regimes. There have been several attempts to reintroduce the Swallowtail to Wicken Fen and management of the sedge and litter fields has included maintenance of its foodplant as a priority. However, past encroachment of carr has reduced the suitable area and it seems that at the present time the remaining area is too vulnerable to both drying and flooding for the Swallowtail population to remain viable. Clearance of some of the carr is a management priority, though it may be noted that a successful introduction from Norfolk will not replace the loss of genetic diversity. Dempster et al. (cited by Heath et al., 1984) carried out a museum study that suggested that Wicken butterflies were genetically somewhat different from those of Norfolk, a not unlikely result of the fragmentation of the old Fenland habitat.

It should also be noted that there are early records of the Swallowtail in Britain that suggest a much wider distribution in southern England and perhaps use of a broader spectrum of foodplants such as the relatively common Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) (Morris, 1870). Whereas the endemic British subspecies, Papilio machaon britannicus, is strictly a fenland butterfly feeding only on Milk Parsley, the widespread continental subspecies, Papilio machaon bigeneratus, is less restricted in its diet. It is possible these early records simply represent occasional vagrants from the continent, but it was collected in some numbers at least in Dorset. The Swallowtail had been locally abundant in the Fenlands of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire but there were already concerns for its survival in the latter part of the 1800s. As the fens became the last refuge of this butterfly in Britain, perhaps isolation then further defined our endemic subspecies?
The illustration is taken from Morris (op. cit.) and was based on an 1851 Cambridgeshire specimen.


[To be added: accounts of the Large Copper & Reed Tussock. Ecotypic adaptation and genetic consequences of human disturbance in the Fen Nettle.]

FURTHER INFORMATION

Wicken Fen is the best documented fenland site, as well as being an area in which the author has a research interest, so has been much cited in this web profile. Much more is to be found at:

Wicken Fen Vision
http://wicken.org.uk
The official site (National Trust) of the Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, with the management plan and plenty else on this area of ancient fenland. There was an older site, formerly at http://www.demon.co.uk/ecoln/wicken_fen/index.html (English Nature) which contained a wealth of information. Though sadly gone, it is archived at the Wayback Machine (insert the URL and wait …).
Fungi of Wicken Fen
http://www.lastdragon.org/wicken/wickenfungi.html   (link temporarily unavailable)
Primarily of research and specialised interest, but gives some extra background to habitats in the Fen.

For a very comprehensive account of Wicken Fen, its history, management and natural history, see Friday (1997). It has much of great relevance to fens in general. A detailed account of the history and past management of Wicken Fen is also given by Rowell & Harvey (1988).

Godwin (1978) gives an excellent account of the history of Fenland, with much on past and present management and conservation. Goode & Ratcliffe (in Ratcliffe, 1977, chapter 8) give an excellent overview of British peatlands including fens, their diversity and conservation criteria. Volume 2 of the same work summarises key British fenland sites selected as grade 1 or grade 2 SSSIs. A valuable compendium of detail, if somewhat outdated now, was provided by Tansley (1939). For a modern overview of mires, with a rigorous examination of terminology, see Wheeler & Proctor (2000).

References:

  • Friday, L., (ed.) (1997). Wicken Fen: the making of a wetland nature reserve, Harley Books, Colchester.
  • Godwin, H., (1978). Fenland: its ancient past and uncertain future, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Heath, J., Pollard, E., & Thomas, J., (1994). Atlas of butterflies in Britain and Ireland, Viking, Harmondsworth.
  • Morris, F.O., (1870). A history of British butterflies, 3rd ed., Bell and Daldy, London.
  • Ratcliffe, D.A., (ed.) (1977). A nature conservation review, vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Rodwell, J.S., et al., (1995). British plant communities. 4Aquatic communities, swamps and tall-herb fens, Cambridge University Press.
  • Rowell, T.A., & Harvey, H.J., (1988). The recent history of of Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire, England: a guide to ecological development. Journal of Ecology 76: 73-90.
  • Stewart, A., Pearman, D.A., & Preston, C.D., (1994). Scarce plants in Britain, JNCC, Peterborough.
  • Tansley, A.G., (1939). The British Islands and their vegetation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Wheeler, B.D., (1984) British fens – a review, in Moore, P.D., (ed), European mires, Academic Press, London.
  • Wheeler, B.D., & Proctor, M.C.F., (2000). Ecological gradients, subdivisions and terminology of north-west European mires. Journal of Ecology 88: 187-203.

Note: Like much of this site, these pages are likely to be the object of continuing development and review.

Fens AA

FENS

1.  General Introduction

Fen: a fen  is a type of wetland, broad expanse of nutrient-rich, ground-fed  shallow water in which dead plants do not fully decay, resulting in a flora of emergent plants growing in saturated peat. The other 3 types of wetlands are bogs, swamps, and marshes.

Fens can be drained but this can cause problems. Some major English fens were drained in the 1600`s. However, their early success was short-lived. Once drained of water, the peat shrank, and the fields lowered further. The more effectively they were drained, the worse the problem became, and soon the fields were lower than the surrounding rivers. By the end of the 17th century, the land was under water once again. While drained, however, fens are very productive in agricultural terms.

Wicken Fen

The best example in England of an undrained (but managed) English Fen is the Wicken Fen established by the National Trust in 1899. On 1 May 1899, the National Trust purchased two acres (8094 m²) for £10.

Although it is often described as a natural wilderness, it is neither—humans have been closely involved in this fen for centuries and the reserve is managed intensively to protect and maintain the delicate balance of species which has built up over the years. Much of the management tries to recreate the old systems of fen working which persisted for hundreds of years, allowing species to become dependent on the practices. For example the Sedge plant, Cladium mariscus, is harvested every year and sold for thatching roofs. The first recorded sedge harvest at Wicken was in 1414. Ever since then, sedge has been regularly cut. This has allowed a pattern of plants and animals to build up who depend on regular clearance of the sedge to survive. Many plants and animals are dependent upon regular management of vegetation in this way to keep their habitats going. Konik Ponies and Highland cattle have now been introduced to parts of the fen to prevent scrub from regrowing as a part of the management plan.

The present appearance of Wicken Fen is the result of centuries of management by human beings. Many of the practices now undertaken have changed little since medieval times. In surrounding areas, the landscape has changed so completely that it is almost impossible to imagine how it must once have all looked. Only a very few places survive where it is possible to experience this primitive landscape first hand; Wicken Fen is one of these.

Tracks in and around Wicken Fen became visible on Google Street View before many towns and urban areas in Britain were covered. Try it: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB360GB360&sourceid=chrome&q=wicken%20fen&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

170px-Wicken_Fen_Windpump

The National Trust aims to acquire further land as it becomes available, paying the market prices.[7] As a result of the increased area of wetlands, the populations of skylarks, snipe, grey partridge, widgeon and teal have all increased with a major increase in barn owls and short-eared owls. Buzzards, hen and marsh-harriers have returned, and bitterns began breeding by 2009 for the first time since the 1930s.[9]

The Wicken Fen Vision has great support from many people and organisations. Large sums of money have been raised from grant-awarding bodies, and from individual donors.

A Carr Fen is swampy.

carr, the name of which is derived from the Old Norse kjarr, meaning a swamp, is a type of waterlogged, wooded terrain that, typically, represents a succession stage between the original reedy swamp and the eventual formation of forest in a sub-maritime climate.[1]

The carr is one stage in a so-called hydrosere: the progression of vegetation beginning from a terrain that is submerged by fresh water along a river or lake margin. In sub-maritime regions, it begins with reed-swamp. As the reeds decay, the soil surface eventually rises above the water, creating fens that allow vegetation like sedge to grow. As this progression continues, riparian trees and bushes appear and a carr landscape is created–in effect a wooded fen in a waterlogged terrain. At this stage the pH is not too acidic and the soil is not too deficient in mineral elements. Characteristic trees include alderwillow and sallow.[1]

FEN MANAGEMENT

ONE: General.  from plantlife.org

Wetland

{habitat_image_alt}

Wetlands form over any land whose soil is either seasonally or permanently waterlogged. This can happen alongside rivers, across floodplains, where there are springs and seepage, a high water table or tidal incursion.

Water-logging tends to exclude oxygen from the soil and plants have evolved many ways to deal with this, leading to the evolution of hundreds of specialist wetland and waterside species.

Wetland habitats include marshes, fens, bogs, water-meadows and any muddy place by water; they are found all across the UK and often include systems of aquatic habitats such as ditches, rills and streams which can also be important for plants. Wetland complexes such as the Broads, Somerset and Pevensey Levels, form extensive networks of habitats which are rich in many other forms of wildlife.

Habitat features

Bogs

Upland and Lowland bogs are characterised by the dominance of Sphagnum moss species, which lay down layers of bog peat as they grow. Sphagnum acidifies its own environs and so bog systems are populated with plants that can cope with base-poor, acid waters. English upland blanket-bogs cover more than 10,000 hectares of land and are hugely significant in the landscape. Lowland bogs are much less extensive, are more fragmented and prone to damage; our largest extent, in the Humberhead levels, has been badly damaged in recent decades as a consequence of peat removal at an industrial scale

Fens and reedbeds

This kind of habitat occurs in river valleys and floodplains that are not conducive to the development of Sphagnum dominated vegetation. Sedges and ruches tend to dominate and common reed is a prominent species, although its abundance is greatly affected by management; fens and reedbeds have a very long history of traditional management, some being grazed but many cut for ‘fen litter’ or ‘marsh-hay’, a product that went for feed and bedding for the many thousands of horses that once populated our towns and cities. Fen-litter and saw-sedge, another traditional fen product, are both cut in late summer, which suppresses reed growth; however winter cutting encourages reed growth and leads to such dominance that the reed can be harvested in bulk for thatching. Most fens are small, isolated and restricted to the margins of larger wetland systems; however large areas are still to be found in the Broads and the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Wet woodland

Mature wet woodland is a rarity in the UK and where it does exist it is often restricted to the margins of fens and marshes and the fringes of slow moving rivers. Typically dominated by alder or willow, it can be a species-rich habitat, especially where it occurs at one end of a complete transition from open water to woodland; a few such examples can be found in the Broads. Wet woodland also occur away from obvious water supplies, for instance in Suffolk where alder woods occur on the poorly drained plateau clays.

Water meadows and wet grasslands

Although often badly affected by agricultural improvement, these grasslands can form extensive systems in river valleys and the lower parts of river floodplains. Associated with traditional extensive grazing regimes, where intervening ditches are maintained as ‘wet-fences’, such grassland networks form some of our most intact wetland systems. Good examples can be found all around the country and include the Pevensey and Somerset Levels, the floodplains of the Itchen and Test rivers in Hampshire and the Thames in Oxfordshire and parts of the Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk. Many such systems support the last of our species-rich lowland meadows but even where these are not as good as they once were, the ditch networks that divide them up can still be rich in aquatic and marginal plants

Key issues

Perhaps the single most influential factor in the loss of wetlands is drainage. Wetland soils, particularly fen peats, make fine agricultural soils if the water can be got rid of. This has of course already happened across many tens of thousands of hectares of former wetland habitat, with unfortunate consequences in terms of soil loss through oxygenation and shrinkage, windblow and carbon release.

The flower-richness of wetland habitats is dependent also on good water quality. Where wetlands are fed by rivers which pass through towns and cities and intensively farmed agricultural areas, high nutrient concentrations in the water cause a few species to outgrow the majority, leading to a rapid decline in floral diversity.

Abstraction of water from underground sources can reduce supplies of water to spring fed systems such as valley fens and chalk-stream margins. This leads to a gradual drying out, loss of water-dependent species and ultimately to complete loss of the wetland habitat. Water-levels can often be restored quite quickly, with the withdrawal of abstraction, but this does not necessarily lead to a restoration of former vegetation, mainly due to the oxygenation and breakdown of formerly water-logged soils.

Changes in agriculture and the way people live their lives has led to a decline (and in some cases almost complete loss) in markets for traditional fen produce. This has led to fens becoming uneconomic to manage in the traditional way, leading to conversion to agriculture or abandonment.

What we’re doing about it

Plantlife’s Fenlands Project, supported by Esmee Fairbairn and Natural England, conducted experimental management at a range of sites in the East of England to a) enhance populations of priority fen species and b) encourage the reappearance of fen plants at degraded fens. Experimental work finished in 2009 but monitoring work continues to track the response of plants to the experiments over time.

TWO: Technical

A good manual illustrates how complex this can be:

The Fen Management Handbook Edited by Andrew McBride, Iain Diack, Nick Droy, Bobbie Hamill, Peter Jones, Johan Schutten, Ann Skinner and Margaret Street

Introduction and Basic Principles
Fens are magical places; they are an essential part of our
cherished landscape. They support a rich variety of wildlife, and
are often a repository of evidence of many generations of past
economic use and management. With so much in their favour, it is
perhaps surprising that fens are one of the least well recognised
habitats, and a part of our countryside which most people
understand little about.
This handbook has been produced to improve understanding
of fens and how they function, to explain why fens need
management and to provide best practice guidance. Case
studies are included at the end of most sections as practical
examples of the principles and techniques outlined in the text.
The handbook is aimed at anyone interested in fens, or who might
become involved in fen management, creation or restoration from
a practical, policy or planning perspective.
Key points and good practice are highlighted in green boxes.
Cautions about activities which might be legislatively controlled
or which might potentially damage the interest of fens are
highlighted in red boxes.

Snapshot case studies in the text to
illustrate specific points are highlighted in yellow.
1.1 What are fens?
The word ‘fen’ is derived from the old English word ‘fenn’ meaning
marsh, dirt or mud.

A fen is a wetland that receives water and nutrients from surface and/or
groundwater, as well as from rainfall.

Differentiating between fens and bogs
Fens receive most of their water via rock and soil which contain
dissolved minerals creating growing conditions that allow more lush
vegetation than bogs.
Bogs receive water exclusively from rainfall which is acidic and contains
very few minerals; consequently rain-fed acid bogs support a less
diverse range of vegetation than fens.
Fens are found from sea level up into the hills, across the whole of the British
Isles. They range in size from tiny flushes of only a few square metres, to extensive
floodplain fens covering hundreds of hectares, forming important features in the
wider landscape and river catchments. 8
1.2 What’s so special about fens?

Fens were prized by our ancestors for the range of products they yield: reeds and
sedge for thatching, willow for basketry, hay and lush aftermath grazing for cattle.
It is the past management and human interaction with fens for such purposes that
has created the extremely diverse and ever-changing habitat which attracts and
supports a rich variety of plants, insects, mammals and birds, and which explains
why fens are described as semi-natural rather than natural habitats.

Section 2:
Fen Flora and Fauna explains more about the flora and fauna which make fens so
special from a wildlife perspective.
The UK contains a large proportion of fen types found in Europe, the surviving
fragments of previously much more extensive wetlands. ‘

In his book The Illustrated History of the Countryside, Oliver Rackham suggested that “about a quarter of the
British Isles is, or has been some kind of wetland.”

As in other parts of Europe, the
quality and extent of wetlands including fens has declined dramatically as a result
of drainage, development and neglect. Some of our best agricultural soils have
been provided by fens, following drainage and decades of tillage. However, the
organic component of the soil that makes it so suitable for root and other crops has
gradually broken down releasing carbon and lowering the land level, making the
land more difficult to drain.
It is estimated that of 3,400 km2
of fen present in England in 1637, only 10 km2
remains today.

In intensively farmed lowland areas of England, fens now occur less
frequently, are smaller in size and are more isolated than in other parts of the UK.
Despite these losses, the UK still boasts some large fens such as the 300 ha Insh
Marshes in the floodplain of the River Spey in Scotland, the calcareous rich-fen and
swamp of Broadland covering 3,000 ha in Norfolk and Suffolk, and the Lough Erne
system in Northern Ireland with extensive areas of fen and swamp. In some lowland
areas, such as the Scottish Borders and southern parts of Northern Ireland, there
are large numbers of fens which although small (many less than 3 ha in size), are
still of European importance for the rich wildlife they support.

FEN PLANTS

Yellow Flag

220px-Iris_pseudacorus_001

Greater Pond Sedge: carex riparia800px-Carex_riparia_(Ufer-Segge)_IMG_22812

Common Spike Rush

In pools

[edit]In typical fen

[edit]In fen carr

Kjarr

carr, the name of which is derived from the Old Norse kjarr, meaning a swamp, is a type of waterlogged, wooded terrain that, typically, represents a succession stage between the original reedy swamp and the eventual formation of forest in a sub-maritimeclimate.[1]

The carr is one stage in a so-called hydrosere: the progression of vegetation beginning from a terrain that is submerged by fresh water along a river or lake margin. In sub-maritime regions, it begins with reed-swamp. As the reeds decay, the soil surface eventually rises above the water, creating fens that allow vegetation like sedge to grow. As this progression continues, riparian trees and bushes appear and a carr landscape is created–in effect a wooded fen in a waterlogged terrain. At this stage the pH is not too acidic and the soil is not too deficient in mineral elements. Characteristic trees include alderwillow and sallow.[1]

Canadian Expertise.

http://www.gret-perg.ulaval.ca/fileadmin/fichiers/fichiersGRET/pdf/Doc_generale/Wetlands.pdf

AAPL. It is CHEAP

JAMES DE MASI

 

Apple (AAPL) is the cheapest big name tech stock on the market. It’s cheaper than Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG), Cisco (CSCO), Oracle (ORCL), or Qualcomm (QCOM). The price should be $500 at the bare minimum, if not $600. If that sounds like a bold claim to you then I hope to change your mind by the end of this article. You are probably already wondering how the market could be this wrong if Apple really is this cheap.

Ben Graham said that, “In the short run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long run it is a weighing machine.” Meaning that a stock’s price in the short-term is a, “product partly of reason and partly of emotion.” I’m going to argue that the current price is being driven more by emotion and less by reason and then proceed straight to valuation. I will not talk about Apple’s products or prospects here, because they’re all well publicized and don’t need repeating.

An Unstable Reaction

As children, most of us first learned about unstable chemical reactions by mixing vinegar and baking soda, possibly to create a model volcano. Well, the unstable reaction that was so fun to watch as a child isn’t nearly as fun to witness as an investor. Professor Aswath Damodaran of NYU has written on multiple occasions that when a stock (Apple) gets mixed with value, growth, dividend, and momentum investors then there can be a powerful reaction, much like mixing vinegar and baking soda.

It should not be difficult for anyone watching Apple to imagine a scenario where growth is either too slow or too uncertain to please growth investors, the company’s product – technology – is too unpredictable for traditional values investors, the dividend isn’t large enough or isn’t growing fast enough to please dividend investors, and that the conflict among these groups ceases all price momentum to the dismay of momentum and institutional investors. That’s exactly what is happening now. The result is that no one is happy, and that’s being reflected in the current price. The fact that investors keep a daily laser-like focus on this stock certainly adds to the cauldron of emotional tension, which only pushes level-headed reasoning that much further into the background. There has to be a catalyst to shake investors and unlock Apple’s value.

Damodaran Versus Einhorn

As most of you probably already know, Professor Damodaran and hedge fund manager David Einhorn have gotten entangled in a public argument over Apple’s value and its cash hoard. Damodaran said that Einhorn’s plan to issue iPrefs would, “not add value to the company, not one cent.” Einhorn, on the other hand, feels that Apple’s true value is being buried alive by its cash hoard, so distributing that cash would “create” value. Einhorn is essentially saying that investors cannot see the company’s value for all the green, if you will. I believe that both them are correct and will explain.

Damodaran is correct that returning cash to shareholders does not increase the intrinsic value of a business. Dividends are simply a transfer of value, like withdrawing cash from an ATM. The second you take your cash from the machine you still own the same amount of money. Some of it just happens to be going into your pocket now. Or in the Professor’s own words:

If Apple’s shares were trading at fair value today (let’s say, at $450/share) and each Apple shareholder were granted a preferred share, with a preferred dividend of 4% and face value of $100, here is what the shareholders will end up holding tomorrow: a common stock with a value of $350 and a preferred share with a value of $100.

It appears that this conflict with Einhorn could be a misunderstanding. Damodaran is looking at this from a purely intrinsic standpoint despite the fact that he himself has acknowledged that emotions affect pricing and that he believes Apple is worth much more than its current price. Mr. Einhorn may not have literally meant that distributing Apple’s cash would create intrinsic value; rather, he likely meant that it would uncover the intrinsic value and align it more closely with the market price. In other words, unloading the cash would make the discrepancy between the stock’s price and its value so blatant that even a casual observer would take notice.

Apple’s Intrinsic Value

Whether you value Apple on an intrinsic or a relative basis, it is cheap. In February, Professor Damodaran wrote that, by his calculation, the probability of Apple being undervalued at $440 per share was 90%. He used a Monte Carlo simulation to arrive at this probability. The simulation valued Apple’s shares by adjusting key variables across 100,000 possible scenarios. The results are shown below.

(click to enlarge)Damodaran Apple Monte Carlo Simulation

He pegged Apple’s intrinsic value at $608 and concluded this analysis by stating that, “for Apple to be worth only $440 (or less), you would neednegative or close to zero revenue growth, pre-tax operating margins of 25% (current margin is closer to 35%, down from 40% plus a year ago) and the cost of capital would have to be at 15% (the 97th percentile of US stocks).”

With the current price around $390, you can imagine what the Professor’s estimated probability of undervaluation would be now. I recommend that all of you examine his writing and valuation yourself. You will find his thinking and math to be sound, reasonable, and of the utmost quality.

Relative Value

Einhorn, as stated earlier, believes that Apple’s cash hoard is hiding the company’s real value and that distributing the cash will make that value obvious. Let’s do that here. Let’s strip out the cash and compare Apple to other big tech names with large cash hoards. All of these names are undoubtedly familiar to you, and Apple is far cheaper than each of them following this approach.

You will see in the chart below that I laid out each company’s current cash and equivalents and marketable securities below alongside the percentage of those holdings overseas. I taxed the percentage held overseas by 35% for repatriation, added that amount back to the domestic cash holdings, and subtracted that full amount from each company’s respective market capitalization. I used the most recent data I could find, and the market caps are as of the market close on April 18, 2013.

(click to enlarge)

The return on adjusted market capitalization is nothing more than an adjusted earnings yield. I realize that the return on cash can impact earnings, but I don’t consider the impact to be meaningful enough to drastically alter the data.

Next, I valued Apple by determining the equivalent market capitalization for a given level of return on the adjusted market cap. For example, the chart below shows that Apple’s current market cap before adjusting for cash, or its equivalent capitalization, would have to rise to $476.6 billion to return 11.2% on a cash adjusted basis, as shown for Microsoft in the previous chart. This means that Apple’s share price should be $507.53, which is a 29.46% premium to its current price of $392.05, if it were priced on an equivalent basis with Microsoft. The other companies follow.

(click to enlarge)

Conclusion

It would appear that Einhorn is correct that Apple is being underappreciated on a cash adjusted basis. Think what you will about relative valuation, the data here is hard to ignore. The company’s adjusted earnings yield dwarfs that of Google, Oracle, and Qualcomm and is significantly higher than Cisco and Micosoft’s.

It leaves one left asking, are the other companies’ prospects that much better or Apple’s that much worse that there should be such a large return differential? If I had $400 billion to spend on an acquisition would I rather own Microsoft and earn a lower return than I would owning Apple?

If you feel that Samsung’s presence makes owning Apple far riskier than these other companies then you might still argue for its low valuation. However, we would have to agree to disagree, because Professor Damodaran’s work clearly shows that Apple is intrinsically undervalued even after accounting for competitive pressure. Therefore, I must conclude by saying that it is clear, to me, that no matter how you prefer to value its shares APPLE IS CHEAP.

Cadboro Bay Farm

3905D Cadboro Bay

This image is of my grandfather and his farm on Cadboro Bay around about 1940 I estimate. My uncle Clifford is there to his right–so the war has started  but Clifford has not yet joined up nor is he married.

The young  child in the picture is most likely one of my cousins, a son of Norah who was a sister of Clifford. She is married to John Henry an RCMP officer. So the child is also John Henry.

UCC farm pic

Note how prosperous the farm is and how rural Cadboro Bay still is. The stooked hay is for the Jersy cow that provided them milk, butter and cheese. The small building to the left is the chicken coop. With fish and clams from the ocean as required they had little to purchase except salt, tea and flour.

The pile of firewood is all from driftwood that floated into the bay. More than enough for the winter ahead.

I would have first visited the farm a year or so after this image was recorded. By then, Clifford would be married and in the air force and off defending Britain.

The picture was probably taken from the roof of the house, given the line of sight, and probably taken by Norah. I will post an image of the house.

 

BUIKA: flamenco six minutes and others

Buika

and a mix:

BETTER MIX

AND A GREAT SONG: Ay de mi primavera
nine minute version

Spanish

Sal de aquí por favor
No me mires así
Ahora quiero estar sola
Esta es mi voluntad
Tú ya no me harás dudar
Más de mi persona

Ya no quiero saber
Si me vas a condenar
Por buscar mi destino
Y si el día en el que marche
Me vas a enredar como siempre
Pa que no haga camino

Ay de mi primavera
Quién me devolviera
Lo que yo era, lento
Para encontrar un nuevo camino
Lento, lento, lento como yo

Mi futuro es mentira
El pasado me pesa y me sobra
Por el miedo ahora callo
Yo sé que me arde la boca

Y no debo calla
Porque voy buscando
Un camino lento
Yo voy bucando un camino lento

Yo voy buscando
Buscándote, buscándome
Y buscándote en él

Ay de mi primavera
Quién me devolviera
Lo que yo era, lento
Cuando respiraba lento
Cuando me movía lento
Lento como yo

Cuando tú me amabas lento
Cuando me besabas lento
Cuando me creías lento
Lento como yo

ENGLISH

Salt here please
Don’t look at me thus
Now I want to be alone
This is my will
You already I won’t doubt
Most of my person

Now I don’t know
If I go to condemn
Looking for my destiny
And if the day that you turn
You gonna tangle as always
PA which does not make road

Woe is my spring
Who me back
What I was slow
To find a new path
Slow, slow, slow like me

My future is a lie
The past me and me sobra
Afraid I’ll now shut up
I know that the mouth is burning me

And I don’t need calla
Because I’m looking for
A slow pathway
I’m bucando a way slow

I’m looking for
Looking for you, looking for me
And looking for you in it

Woe is my spring
Who me back
What I was slow
When breathing slowly
When I moved slow
Slow like me

When you loved me slow
When kiss me slow
I thought when you slow
Slow like me

AAPL: Affirmation

NYC TRADER

It is no secret. Investors are petrified by negative sentiment and rumors about Apple (AAPL). Traders and shareholders continue to digest such rumors about Apple and the recent trend has been typical: dump the shares. For example, a fresh piece from the Wall Street Journal about the future of the next iPhone, an iterative iPhone 5 and a version of the same phone for the China market, cost shareholders $10 billion in market cap within an hour, or the size of BlackBerry (BBRY) and AOL, combined. That market cap disappeared as a speculative – and unconfirmed – report was pushed out by a couple of journalists. Such speculation has been trending for several months now, as journalists and analysts fire speculative shots about Apple’s supply chain, demand, and future products at investors based on their discussions with vendors and third parties.

Though Apple is fundamentally extremely strong with surveys pointing to high product retention rates among existing users and continued growth in emerging markets, many analysts have now updated their models to reflect not the fundamental value of the company they adored only a few months earlier, but a “new mood” among Apple traders. In other words, what we are witnessing here is true market inefficiency at work – led by market participants. A prominent analyst slashing his price target by 53%, or $480 billion, in several months’ time is a clear example of such inefficiency. $480 billion, by the way, is 15% larger than the current Apple market cap and is about the size of Argentina’s GDP. To wipe away such a significant amount within a few months’ time raises serious questions around the analyst’s methodology. Did the fundamentals really change by $480 billion in a few months’ time?

While the competitive risks are high and it’s true that Apple might need to prove to investors their next product cycle’s strength, should we really value the company at a third or even half that of competitor Google (Apple trades at 9.88X TTM and an eye-popping 6.6x P/E if you back out cash; Google (GOOG) trades at 24.34X TTM and a whopping 20+X market cap ex-cash)?

Is Apple then currently priced correctly? Depends on how you value the company or what methodology you use to predict the stock’s next move. But let’s face it. As a market leader, Apple’s strategy was never about responding to analysts’ and pundits’ demands. On the contrary, Apple’s strategy has always been about understanding what consumers want and offering revolutionary products that will change the way they live their lives. Whether you’re using a discounted cash flow model or the comparables method, the fundamental value that drives a stock in the longer term is the company’s product and its proven track record. I will explain why in my view the drivers of Apple’s share price are extremely strong and why that should drive the stock to premium levels in the longer term.

Ecosystem: Positive

Whether you’re bullish or bearish on Apple, it is hard to deny the company’s most effective tool to driving its success: its ecosystem. Apple’s carefully crafted ecosystem is probably its most undervalued asset and a new future product will without a doubt be built around the same ecosystem that has made every one of its current products successful. A future Apple might unite with credit card companies to allow us to make payments using an iWatch through the cloud. A future Apple might be a cable company that allows us to watch ESPN through an “a la carte” service without paying for Bravo. An Apple TV might also mean that Apple will truly revolutionize the way we use our televisions versus our current methods. Point to some of the millions of iTV apps and play Angry Birds while Skyping with your girlfriend. Yes the technology is there. So was the MP3 player before the iPod was rolled out. The smartphone also existed before the iPhone revolutionized that market. I owned a tablet long before the iPad was introduced (which is why I doubled down on Apple after negative iPad sentiment during days following the release caused the stock to sell off by 10%).

The bottom line is this: an ecosystem is a very important barrier-to-entry and while competitors are catching up by introducing substitutes toproven (key word is proven) Apple products, Apple is building new products around its ecosystem. This is what many market participants who trade Apple have trouble “valuing,” but it is an essential piece.

Emerging Markets: Positive

One of Apple’s strengths I am extremely pleased about in terms of Apple’s strategy is their ability to successfully globalize. They have effectively used their sought-after brand to introduce leading products in markets around the world. While their sales have grown in every major segment, its most important market at the moment is in China. At 67% Y/Y sales growth, it is by far its strongest growing geographic segment. The prospects for this region are even greater. Here is why. Apple’s iPhones, until now, have been available to a select few of China’s population of 1.35 billion as 48% of China’s income share was held by the highest 20% in 2005. However, within that number, there is inequality in itself as 32% of China’s income share was held by the highest 10%. This turns into an extremely fat-tailed income distribution (sorry, image not available). What does this mean? Let’s say until now, the more expensive iPhone was only available to 5% of China. That means the market opportunity was constructed around 68 million people. Let’s say a less expensive iPhone would be available to an additional 45% of China. That means the new market opportunity will be around an additional 608 million people. Below, I built a very simplistic segment forecast to show just how such an upside could affect EPS.

(click to enlarge)

The chart assumes that Apple will enter a price war with competitors by introducing a less expensive product (price is blend of products) at 78% of original price. This would to a degree be subsidized by a carrier (such as China Mobile) and would create a very affordable item for the segment’s population and could potentially create an extra 554% segment upside for Apple or an additional $11.26/share. I would like to caution that this is not a projection, but a way to better view the potential of the China market. This is one of the main reasons I am surprised that any analyst is currently modeling Apple at negative growth and at a discount to comps.

Cash Management: Positive

Should too much cash be treated as a positive or a negative? That of course depends on your market outlook and your opportunity costs. For most passive investors, Apple hoarding 33% of its market cap, or $137+ billion in cash, during such uncertain times should be incredible. For someone like David Einhorn, who has to show investors that he’s taking risks during a booming equity market, Apple hoarding its cash is quite terrible. My belief is that since inflation concerns seem to be muted in the near-term and since the market is entering a late investment cycle(investment cycles were covered in my last submission), Apple is right to hold on to its cash until they find more favorable conditions or investments. What about buying back shares? Although I do believe that buying back shares would spur investor confidence, I’d be more in favor of Apple investing its money in its ecosystem, where I see potentially heavy growth.

Margins: Neutral

Yes Apple’s operating margins have been compressing, but they’ve been settling at normal levels, at or way above comps as can be seen here. Notice that Amazon (AMZN)’s operating margin was a mere 2% in 4Q12, a difference of 3,378 bp.

Below is a chart of Apple’s operating income growth (decline) by region and the corresponding margins. Greater China and Japan have seen outstanding operating income growth on even stronger sales, while margins in lower cost regions and those regions hit by recessions have experienced much margin compression.

(click to enlarge)

While analysts have raised red flags around margins, I don’t believe that Apple’s declining margins should be of huge concern to investors simply because they still have some of the highest margins in the industry and are trading at a deep discount to industry rivals. At the same time, all new products Apple rolls out should and I believe will take into consideration declining margins and therefore will most likely be much higher margin products.

Conclusion

Apple’s revolutionary story, as we know it today, began not at the Mac or the iPod, but at its ecosystem, which is still in its “child” stage. A gifted child I might add. The market opportunity for expanding that ecosystem globally is quite enormous. Because Apple has extremely strong brand recognition, much cash, and loyal consumers, I believe other companies will be willing to “play along” by joining Apple’s ecosystem. That will create billions of dollars of cash flows in the longer term. The stock trades at a deep discount to comparables as is evident above. This should, in my opinion, correct in the future. While I would not recommend timing Apple’s stock for quick surging bounce (through options, for example) for the near term, I do believe that downside risk is not nearly what it is for companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. This in my opinion is a longer-term, even greater success story.

Milton Obit

When the colleges that make up the University of Toronto were required in 1975 to combine their separate English departments into one, the result was a mega-department with 150 full-time members – the largest English department in any Canadian university.

In changes intended to eliminate overlaps, long-standing rivalries between colleges died hard and the moves were widely resented. Milton Wilson, a literary scholar at Trinity College, was thought by his colleagues to be so fair-minded and wise that this fractious group chose him as the only possible person to chair the amalgamated department, which he did for the next 10 years.

Some referred to him as “the genial giant” – a comment on both his 6-foot-2 frame and his moral stature.

miltonwilson

Prof. Wilson, authority on the Romantic period, an editor for 14 years of Canadian Forum, piano player, canny negotiator, mentor to Canadian poets, a truly civilized man, died in Toronto on March 22, after a stroke at the age of 90.

“It was Milton Wilson’s great diplomatic skill that enabled the new department to work at all,” recalled John Baird, a retired English professor who lived through the upheaval. “Slowly but surely he persuaded a severely factionalized department to pull together. Some other departments that were thriving then have stumbled badly (the Sanskrit department, largest in the world outside India in the ’70s, has vanished altogether), but English held together.”

He hired women at a time when that was a rarity. Jill Levenson, who recently retired as an English prof at Trinity, remembers her job interview in 1967 at which Prof. Wilson asked only gender-blind questions about her professional qualifications and nothing about her personal life.

When Milton Wilson began his academic career after the war, there were no courses devoted to Canadian literature at U of T, but this changed markedly, with his encouragement. He supervised many doctoral candidates who chose to specialize in Canadian literature, who then went on to teach courses in it. He edited Canadian poetry anthologies including Poetry of Mid-Century, 1940-1960 (1964), and Poets Between the Wars (1967).

“His anthologies stood up; I used them as a student and later as a teacher,” says John O’Connor, professor at St. Michael’s College, whose thesis on Prairie literature in English and French had been supervised by Prof. Wilson.

When Leonard Cohen was asked by publisher McClelland & Stewart for permission to use his poems in an anthology, he replied in a letter: “Milton Wilson is the best critical mind in the country. I would be delighted to be in anything he puts together.”

Milton Wilson was born in Toronto on Feb. 23, 1923 to Garnett and Myrtle Wilson, their only child. Well before he entered school, he learned to read sitting on the knees of his paternal grandfather, who lived with the family. His father was a stock-

broker who lost his money and his job in the crash of 1929; his parents divorced soon after.

From the age of 8 until high school graduation, he attended St. Andrew’s College, a private boarding school for boys in Aurora, Ont., where he was such a quick learner that he was skipped ahead two grades. Being the youngest in his year, he tried to find ways to impress the older boys. According to his son Gregory, he did this by becoming a storyteller, producing long sequences of tales, and by rarely losing at ping pong or bowling. He was editor of the yearbook, acted in plays and could play anything on the piano by ear.

Summers were spent at a camp in Temagami, where he was famous for making up his own musical shows and comedy sketches.

He entered U of T, planning to study mathematics, at which he excelled, but switched to English. When the Second World War intervened, he joined the navy and was assigned to a minesweeper out of St. John’s.

When he returned to Toronto after the war, friends introduced him to an attractive young woman named Joanna Crawford; they married in 1947 and went on to raise six children together.

“He was supposedly very good at off-colour limericks in the navy, but we never heard them,” says Gregory. “The kind of joke he made up for us was, ‘Why do goalies wear masks?’ ‘Because they don’t want to lose their face off.’”

“The university gave all the returning young men a BA even if they had not finished their courses,” Joanna Wilson recalled. “Milton did only two years as an undergraduate but he got his BA.”

Prof. Wilson next enrolled in a master’s program, during which he encountered an extraordinary teacher: Arthur Barker. He was, says his son, influenced by Prof. Barker’s analysis and his critical style, which went against the flow of the prevailing formalist criticism propounded by T.S. Eliot.

When Prof. Wilson went on to Columbia University in New York for his doctorate, he incorporated his mentor’s methods in his analysis of Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, published in 1959 as Shelley’s Later Poetry: a Study of His Prophetic Imagination. In 1949, even before the thesis was finished, Prof. Barker hired his former student to teach at Trinity.

“The Romantics were out of fashion then,” recalled Dennis Duffy, who had been a Trinity colleague. “Eliot and his American representative, Allen Tate [the Southern poet, critic and white supremacist] loathed them, and especially scorned Shelley. But they appealed to Mr. Wilson’s

idealism, his devotion, like Northop Frye’s, to the imagination. There was always a strong Romantic interest at U of T.”

It was Prof. Frye who roped Prof. Wilson into working for the Canadian Forum when the former, then the Forum’s editor, casually asked him to review a new book about the U.S. poet Edward Arlington Robinson; Prof. Wilson was still an MA student. Many other reviews followed, including music reviews sent from New York while he was at Columbia.

“Do you know how he reviewed new recordings? He listened to them in the soundproof booths of record shops,” recalls Jill Levenson. “He had no phonograph.”

The Canadian Forum, which ceased publication in 2000, began at the U of T 80 years earlier and was unique in combining poetry and fiction with political and social commentary. Although its circulation was tiny and its writers and editors unpaid, it punched above its weight in defining Canadian culture for a scattered and underpopulated country.

Between 1954 and 1968, Prof. Wilson followed in Prof. Frye’s footsteps as editor of the Forum. The poets he made welcome in its pages alongside political scientists and historians included Margaret Avison, Dorothy Livesay, Milton Acorn, Al Purdy, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, P.K. Page and Jay Macpherson (his former doctoral student.) He maintained a voluminous correspondence with them and offered them astute advice about how to make their poems sharper.

“I think it would not be a stretch to say that he was an important figure in the 1950s and 1960s renaissance of Canadian literature,” says Sam Solecki, a recently retired English professor at St. Michael’s College, who was (a generation later) was himself an editor of the Canadian Forum.

He recalls some conversations with Prof. Wilson about the Forum’s earlier days. What was remarkable was “how casual it all was, a sort of mom-and-pop show run by academics and artists and political people whose left and leftish cultural and political and social views overlapped. When you read those issues you get the impression that this is an off-shoot of English Fabianism and the Canadian CCF.”

In later years, Prof. Wilson received many tributes, including an honorary degree from Trinity College in 1992 and membership in the Royal Society of Canada. But he was too modest to take awards seriously. When the Shelley/Keats Society gave him a prize, he forgot to take the plaque home with him. He retired at 65, but continued to teach for five more years as emeritus professor.

“They were his most enjoyable years of teaching. He actually got to teach Canadian literature in small groups,” says his son.

In 2006, he fell while running for a bus and soon after moved with Joanna into a retirement residence, surrounded by his beloved books, which he could no longer read. Although his intellect was damaged by age, he lost none of his musical skills. He played the piano for the residents three times a week and could fill any request.

He leaves his wife, Joanna, children Barbara, Katharine, Gregory, Victoria, Timothy and Anthony; by 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.