October 9, 2008

New Havens for Wildlife Created

By Joanne Ginley

Visitors can see water voles, birds such as skylarks, goldfinches, kestrels and swallows, along with speckled wood and meadow brown butterflies and flowers such as harebells, bird's foot trefoil and vetches.The wildlife constantly changes and in winter visitors will find birds such as fieldfares and redwings as well as ducks such as goldeneye on the reserves that have lakes.It was announced yesterday that six of Wakefield's parks and wildlife areas are to be classified as local nature reserves by Wakefield Council with the agreement of Natural England, which is the national body that advises on conservation, biodiversity and wildlife issues.The move means the district now has a total of 16 nature reserves.All are protected sites and areas that are recognised for their wildlife and value to local people.The new reserves are at Alverthorpe and Wrenthorpe Meadows, Fitzwilliam Country Park, a section of Pontefract Park, Upton Country Park, Walton Nature Park and Well Wood in Airedale.Councillor Clive Hudson, Wakefield Council's cabinet member for environment said: "These areas are places where people can relax, where we can all learn more about the natural world and where the community can become involved with managing the reserve to improve it for wildlife and visitors alike."We are committed to making the reserves accessible to as many people as possible and hope to improve them even further in the next few years."The new sites will also have information boards at entrances and around the reserves to explain more about the area including its history, plants, birds and animals.More than 230,000 has been committed to ensure the new nature reserves have been brought up to standard through habitat, access improvements and other works.The council is also working with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Groundwork Wakefield to offer volunteers training in maintenance and building work to make the sites more accessible.They have put in footbridges and improved footpaths, with a view to putting in more seating and rest points and accessible gates that allow wheelchairs and pushchairs through but prevent access to motorbikes.All the reserves are rich in wildlife and have plants and animals that are unusual in West Yorkshire. Fitzwilliam Country Park has a small population of water voles, whose numbers nationally have decreased by 95 per cent over the last 30 years.The new reserves will be officially launched at a ceremony at Fitzwilliam Country Park at 3.30pm on Tuesday, October 28.For more details on the nature reserves or to find out how to get involved in work on them,ring Wakefield Council on 01924 307294.

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