Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Post-15 BAP. Updated to 2023




Reedbed, fen, marsh and swamp. The network of reedbeds and wetlands with fen vegetation in Barnsley is an important local feature, with the Dearne Valley nationally significant.

They are some of the richest areas for dragon and damselflies and other invertebrates, amphibians, birds such as the nationally rare Bittern, and mammals such as Harvest  Mouse.

Fen vegetation: rushes, sedges and reed grasses is found on wet and sometimes peaty soils in floodplains and around the margins of standing water and slow-moving water courses.

Wetland areas that are normally flooded throughout the year give rise to swamp, with tall reed grasses such as Common Reed, Reedmace and Reed Canary Grass, emerging from the water.

Although all these swamp habitats support wildlife, Reedbed - swamp dominated by Common Reed, Phragmites australisis - is significant locally for its distinctive range of breeding birds including the nationally rare Bittern.

In areas not always flooded, other forms of fen vegetation develop. Fen or mire can be found on permanently wet peat or peaty soil and marshy grassland on less water-logged, but still damp soils. Scrub encroaching on these habitats will lead in time to wet woodland.

Local Priority habitats

Fen, Marsh and Swamp is a broad habitat category under the UK BAP.

This includes three national priority habitats in Barnsley:

Reedbed         UUHab f2e

Lowland fen   Ukhab f2a

Upland flushes, fens and swamps        UKHab f2c

These fall within the mire (fen) and swamp categories of phase 1 habitat surveys and mire and swamp & tall herb -fen NVC plant communities.


The best local priority habitat examples are where they support good populations or assemblages of species of conservation importance.

The local priority Reedbed habitat has been found to support breeding populations of Bittern for example at a size far less than the UK BAP definition.

Reedbed is classed as swamp in phase 1 habitat surveys

Reedbed’s National Vegetation Classification (NVC) is

S4 Common reed swamp.

Related NVC communities include

S12 Reedmace swamp and

S28 Reed canary grass fen.

Reedbed at Worbrough reservoir

Please use the following links for more information on the wetland habitats of
Reedbed, fen, marsh and swamp.

Fen vegetation on peaty soils can be found in a number of floodplain areas with Lowland Fen on underlying peat, at Gypsy Marsh, Adwick washlands and Carlton Marsh.

Fen vegetation can also be found on the Dark Peak moors, in the Upland Flushes, Fens and Swamps priority habitat.

Reedbed at Carlton Marsh Reedmace at Gypsy Marsh

Reedbed at RSPB Old Moor

Reedbed and Fen