Staveley Nature Reserve to ‘capture the imagination’ of the nation as site blows cover on ‘little known secret'
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The reserve is home to more than 300 species of birds and currently attracts around 40,000 visitors annually who enjoy the site's thriving natural world.
Open all year around and completely free to visit, the reserve is releasing an appeal which will go live on October 20.
Funds raised will allow the site to build basic facilities, educational signs and create an even better habitat for wildlife to live and breed.
Laura Harman, the reserves officer at Staveley, said: “We are appealing for fundraising so we can share the wonders of wildlife with more people.
“So many people don’t even know this place exists.
“It's already an amazing site but there’s so much more potential here.
“Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have been looking after it for 30 years now.
“It's our biggest key site, we have six others.
“Our ambition is to allow people to get closer to nature and wildlife without disturbing it.
“What makes Staveley so important locally and nationally, is that we offer a bit of everything, the huge variety of wildlife.
“We support endangered wildlife and get incredible numbers that are growing all the time.
“We have 25 acres of wildflower meadow, which is very rare as since World War Two we lost over 97 per cent of our natural wildflower areas, making this a key habitat.
“Without the flowers, insects, pollinators, you don’t have the birds, it's all a vital part of the cycle.
“Everything is connected.”
The facilities will open opportunities for schools and groups to visit and experience wildlife.
The plans include learning to understand the vital role people play and the benefits of nature to mental health.
Laura said: “Children learn how important each small environment is and how quickly it adapts with the seasons.
“Nature captures children's imagination and keeps them curious and healthy.
“We’ve learnt technology can’t replace nature.
“Our location is perfect, with Ripon, Knaresborough and Harrogate on our doorstep.
“So many people don’t access their green spaces.
“We’ve learnt how important they are over lockdown, the benefits to mental health are endless.”
Like Ripon’s Wetlands, the reserve plays a key role in protecting the area's wildlife and, alongside the “rewilding” campaign, advances the richness of the Dales’ biodiversity.
Laura said: “You don’t have to know anything about flowers or birds, it's here for everyone.
“We no longer want to be a little known secret.
“We want people to know we are here, so we can share this captivating place.
“Ripon’s Wetlands are vital to us.
“If there’s nowhere else for the wildlife to go we will still lose the battle.
“The ‘rewilding’ message is getting out into the wider public view.
“It’s not about letting everything go wild, it's about having a little wild patch in the garden, individual contribution is vital.
“We keep patches for different life, every weed is vital to a species.
“There’s something special about going on a trip outside, it's always what you remember most about school.”