Leicestershire and Rutland
Located in north-west Leicestershire, covering about 12,500 ha, Charnwood Forest consists of a patchwork of woodland, farmland, country parks, nature reserves and villages. The habitat available to wildlife has diminished significantly over the last 60 years.
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is working with Charnwood Borough Council, Natural England, Leicestershire County Council, The National Forest Company and others, to restore a mixture of woodland, wood-pasture, heath-grassland and meadow habitats. The area is also important for its geological features, which will be incorporated in the habitat restoration plans.
The Wildlife Trust owns numerous nature reserves in the area, which may be expanded and linked to extend the available wildlife habitat. The largest of these include Charnwood Lodge, Ulverscroft and Charley Woods. We have obtained funding to produce an opportunity map of this area, to set up a long-term monitoring project on two of its largest reserves and to increase advice to Local Wildlife Site owners.
Soar and Wreake Floodplain
The floodplain of the Soar and Wreake rivers, in central Leicestershire, covers about 6,000 ha, with land uses including pasture, some arable, gravel pits, urban, roads, country park and nature reserves. Important wildlife habitats - as well as the rivers themselves, which are home to otters and rare water beetles - include wetlands, supporting many wintering and migrating birds, water voles and dragonflies, wet woodland and hay meadows.
The vision for this project is that by acquiring land for nature reserves and working with landowners, the Soar and Wreake floodplain will become a mixture of old and new landscapes, where nature has room to function, wildlife can thrive and people can work and enjoy themselves. Charnwood Borough Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and local community groups are working together to achieve this.
The Wildlife Trust owns nature reserves in the area, including Cossington Meadows, Loughborough Meadows and Narborough Bog. The project aims to provide 400ha of new nature reserves by 2050 and a further 600ha of other land managed with nature conservation a priority, by means including agri-environment funding.
New nature reserves have already been purchased at Cossington, Mountsorrel and Wanlip; a habitat survey of much of the floodplain carried out; advice given to many landowners; work on private land supported through Defra’s Environmental Action Fund and Biffa landfill-tax funding; practical events organised for volunteers and a guided walks programme is underway. The Wildlife Trust has obtained funding to produce an opportunity map of this area, to set up a long-term monitoring project on two of its reserves and to increase advice to Local Wildlife Site owners.
Spanning parts of east Leicestershire and west Rutland, Leighfield Forest covers about 12,500ha. The forest combines ancient woodland, pasture, some arable farming and small villages but the size and quality of wildlife habitat has declined.
The Wildlife Trust is working with Natural England, FWAG and Leicestershire County Council, to restore and reconnect ancient woodlands where appropriate, so reducing their isolation in the landscape.
Conifers have already been removed from several woods, including the Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Launde Park Wood and the Forest Enterprise plantation at Owston Woods. The Forestry Commission JIGSAW scheme has been used to assist in restoring and reconnecting ancient woods through creation of new native woodlands.