Natural Heritage Projects
Dave Savage, the DerwentWISE Natural Heritage Officer, led on conserving or restoring natural heritage sites within the Lower Derwent Valley.
Quickly Dave set up a team of hardworking and dedicated volunteers who together made the programme a great success. Come rain or shine, they would meet either once or twice a week at different sites around the valley to carry out a range of different tasks. This included woodland management, planting trees and meadows and dry-stone wall repairs to name but a few.
The Landscape Conservation Volunteer team soon formed a strong bond with the group going from strength to strength. Many of the volunteers stayed with us for the entire five years of the scheme. They benefit from learning new (or sometimes old) skills. From the camaraderie of being part of a team and all working towards a common goal – to improve habitats for wildlife.
We cannot thank the volunteers enough for their time and commitment to these natural heritage projects. It was down to their efforts that DerwentWISE was a success.
Fergus MacArther later joined the team as Volunteer Co-ordinator after starting out with DerwentWISE as a volunteer himself.
Grazing comes to Town – The project assessed the potential for grazing at selected sites in the project area worked with landowners and graziers to introduce grazing as an effective management tool for sites of high nature conservation value.
High Leas Farm Meadow Enhancement – The project enhanced 3.5 ha of grassland to encourage the establishment of flower rich meadows. A landowner event was held towards the end of the project that demonstrated the techniques and practice of meadow creation and restoration. The site lies within the Peak Fringe and the falls within the Character type ‘Wooded slopes and valleys’.
High Tor Woodland Restoration – High Tor can be found towering 120m above Matlock Bath. It is popular amongst walkers as the views from the top are astounding. Originally this site was quarried and lead & fluorite were mined here. The High Tor woodland restoration project involved the thinning and group felling of sycamore and selected removal of young beech. This will encourage the establishment of a richer understorey and the growth of a more diverse mix of native trees. Such as ash, large-leaved lime and sessile and pedunculate oak as well as understorey shrubs like hazel, buckthorn, privet and hawthorn. It is hoped that the works will diversify woodland structure to benefit lesser spotted woodpecker (creation of deadwood and crown development), spotted flycatcher (glade creation) and other birds of the understorey.
Allestree Park Local Nature Reserve – The project created 2 ha flower rich meadow in the heart of Allestree Park Local Nature Reserve and enhanced 16 ha. The project started in Year 2 although some preparation was needed in Year 1. The site lies within the Peak Fringe and the Character type Wooded slopes and valleys. Allestree Park (Derby’s largest Local Nature Reserve) is located on the northern boundary of Derby City and bridges the gap between urban sprawl and the Derbyshire countryside. It has been a designated nature reserve for over 20 years and has become an important safe haven for wildlife venturing into the city.
Lighting up the Flowers – 30 hectare Lea Wood is a characteristic, steep sided oak woodland of the lower Derwent Valley, where historically, rhododendron was introduced. With changing fortunes and ownership, the management of this plant was abandoned, allowing it to spread and occupy around 13% of the site to the detriment of other plant species and the woodland’s ecology in general. The project allowed Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to direct resources at significantly reducing the space occupied by the target species, in order to create opportunities for a more bio-diverse woodland.
Landscape Conservation – Project to enhance the condition of the landscape character and biodiversity by providing advice, assistance and grants to landowners to secure restoration and enhancements aimed at:
- Restoration of geographical sites
- Woodland restoration and management
- Grassland restoration, management and creation
- Hedgerow restoration
- Restoration and management of priority UK BAP habitats
- Dry stone walling restoration
- Barn repairs
This included sites throughout the lower Derwent Valley project area, recognised within the Derbyshire Regionally Important Geological Site and Local Wildlife Site systems, Local Nature Reserves and/or where priority habitats or species are known to occur. Practical work was undertaken by the Natural Heritage Project Officer working with a team of volunteers and local groups and individuals associated with sites. Ecological objectives for each site were identified and agreed within a brief site management plan.
Belper Parks – Belper Parks is a well-used parkland site located in the heart of Belper. This project aimed to enhance the 2.3 ha of grassland to encourage the establishment of flower rich meadows which in turn attract a greater abundance of insects, small mammals and birds. Increasing the abundance of wildlife aims to provide a feel good factor and improve the general health and wellbeing for local people.
Duke’s Quarry – . The project aimed to improve the visual and physical access to the geological features within the site associated with the quarry face. It also aimed to restore a 16 ha woodland including 3.8 ha of ancient semi-natural woodland to increase diversity of tree and shrub species and structural diversity to encourage woodland birds. The site lies within the Peak Fringe and the Character type Wooded valleys and slopes.