Working in Partnership
From an early stage, we worked closely with specialists at Natural England (NE), the Environment Agency (EA) and The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust (WTCBN) to plan the nature reserve and design the different types of habitat needed to bring long-term benefits to the wildlife.
When the EA asked us to create new meanders to the Clifton Brook Tributary– a watercourse that runs east to west across Lilbourne Meadows - we realised that we had a chance to create a varied wetland habitat that could include wet woodland and reed beds, pools and scrapes. Since this new habitat promises to attract a range of wetland birds, we also decided to build two bird hides for local ornithologists.
Hedgerows will be improved and new thickets of native shrub planted, while across the centre of the nature reserve, we will build an 18 metre high ridge that we will plant as a species rich native woodland. Below the ridge meadow pasture, rush pasture and damp pasture will spread across Lilbourne Meadows.
This combination of habitats has been designed to suit the protected and notable wildlife species that have been identified on and around DIRFT. Extensive wetland habitat will be ideal for the resident Curlews, while for the Great Crested Newts we are excavating and planting specially designed ponds. DIRFT is also home to a population of bats and we will construct a purpose-built bat house to replace existing roosts across the site.
As the plans developed, it was clear to us as well as to NE and the EA that a nature reserve of this size and complexity would need careful, long-term management. We had become members of the Wildlife Trust after working together on a project connected to our Kettering site and both NE and the EA agreed with us that the Trust would be the best organisation to do the job. As well as extensive practical experience of nature reserve management, the Trust brings expert knowledge and good ideas, suggesting for example, that they use rare breeds of cattle and sheep to manage the extensive pasture.