Work starts on £2.5m scheme

Work has started on part of a ‘vital’ £2.5m conservation scheme to restore wildlife habitats.

By Janet Harrison
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 11:14 am

The work during December, at Hell Wath Local Nature Reserve in Ripon is part of the four-year Skell Valley Project, co-led by the National Trust and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A spokesman for the project said: “Hell Wath is a wildflower rich grassland, home to species such as common spotted orchid and cowslips as well as botanical rarities such as adder’s-tongue fern and bee orchid.

“Invasive ‘scrub’ is spreading across the open grasslands, swamping out the wildflowers and reducing the feeding opportunities for butterflies and other pollinators.”

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Councillor Andrew Paraskos, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, said: “Scrub, the bushes and thicket that develop at the edge of woodland, is an important wildlife habitat but left unchecked it can lose its value for nature and overwhelm the delicate grassland.

“While it can seem counter-intuitive to remove trees to help nature, this work is about maintaining the overall importance of the habitat at Hell Wath so that as many species as possible can flourish.”

The scrub removal, during the next few days, is part of a wider scheme of work that will be delivered at Hell Wath as part of the Skell Valley Project.

During the winter a silted-up pond will be reinstated which will restore habitat for amphibians and a range of dragonflies.

In coming years, the Project will be working to improve footpaths on the reserve, with better marking.