How to set up a nature reserve
Ever dreamed of running your own wildlife reserve? Denso Marston nature reserve is run by the local community; here are tips and advice from the experts about how to do it yourself
Katherine Purvis, Lucy Palmer
Monday 22 September 2014 14.31 BST
15. Denso Marston Nature Reserve
Age: 21 years old
Location: Baildon, West Yorkshire
How many people involved?
Warden Steve Warrillow manages the reserve and has 14 volunteers, who all live locally. On average the reserve has 5,500 visitors a year.
The nature reserve hosts a range of events and activities including pond-dipping, moth nights and wildflower exploring, as well as a variety of guided walks to listen to the dawn and evening chorus, and to watch out for bats. Spider Club takes place on the last Saturday of the month and there are 20 people involved: 10 children and 10 adults.
Does the group get funding?
Denso Marston Nature Reserve is partly funded through membership, which costs £6 annually per household. The Friends of Denso Marston Nature Reserve group helps to fund activities, and the local parish council has also chipped. …
What would they like to do next?
“We’ve been cultivating a space behind the education centre for the Spider Club for a while now, putting in raised beds for wildflowers, veggies and fruit,” says Steve. “The beds are all built out of recyclable waste from the Denso factory – I think the only thing we had to buy were the nails, and even those some of the volunteers brought in for us. We even had an old bath donated which we are turning into a pond.” In the future, the reserve would like to carry out more documentation of the various species that live there, especially birds, spiders and other bugs.
What can you do to help?
Visitors are always welcome at the nature reserve – the best time to visit is at the weekend. Contact Steve about Spider Club: email@example.com
Can I set something like this up in my area?
The Wildlife Trusts manage 2,300 nature reserves across the UK, Isle of Man and Alderney. Find a nature reserve near you using the interactive map here. You can also see the Trusts’ range of wildlife-orientated events around the country here.
Anna Guthrie, WT spokeswoman, says: “If you have an area where you can make the most of the land’s potential for wildlife, consider creating a new nature reserve and adding a bit more to our national network of places for wildlife. Size doesn’t matter: whether you have a window box or an entire estate, the principles are the same. By providing food, water, shelter and a place to breed we can help wildlife to thrive.” Some tips:
· Look at how your land links to the wider network of wildlife corridors and important sites for wildlife in the landscape, and consider how your land could function to expand this network.
· Seek expert advice! Your local Wildlife Trust would be a good place to start.
· Survey your site really thoroughly before you do anything to find out what lives there already and how wildlife is already using the site.
· Decide on what species can realistically be attracted to the site and what species already there could have their populations enhanced – they might be common or rare species but important locally.
· Draw up a long-term plan which includes maintaining the site and monitoring it. You might create new areas of habitat, restore existing habitats or perhaps leave some areas wild and untouched.
· Then raise or find the money you need to implement your plan.
· Seek help from volunteers in your community if needed and put your plans for nature into action. Start to have fun!
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust welcomes volunteers at its nine visitor centres, at its Steart site in Somerset, and its headquarters at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Click here to find a volunteering opportunity in your area; you can also check out this map from the Conservation Volunteers.
For inspiration seek out the Little Ouse Headwaters Project, which lies between Blo’ Norton in Norfolk and Thelnetham in Suffolk. Run entirely by volunteers, the project has transformed two agriculturally derelict sites over the past 10 years to provide a safer habitat for many rare and localised species. The project has also created 800 metres of new footpaths and a footbridge, allowing the community access to enjoy the site.
The Amateur Entomologists’ Society runs The Bug Club for children interested in insects and creepy crawlies. Members receive a magazine, merchandise and the opportunity to sign up for events and field trips.
The Freshwater Habitats Trust has a variety of resources and factsheets on different kinds of habitats, as well as a comprehensive toolkit for creating your own wildlife pond.