Green Corridors York; a brief history
Written by Natural Habitats Manager Jonathan Dent
For many years our focus was solely on managing St Nicks Nature Reserve. We had enough to do here with its young developing habitats that any thoughts of expanding our work further was far from our minds. But as we got to know more about the species and habitats on site, our understanding about the need to think about landscape scale management increased.
We began to understand the importance of green corridors. By connecting fragments of green space in the urban landscape, these corridors link access to habitats and reduce the isolation of wildlife populations, enabling plants and animals to flourish and improving biodiversity. They also provide benefits for humans by increasing urban ventilation and reducing the urban heat island affect, providing some flood resilience and of course having all of the usual positive effects that green space has on human mental and physical health.
Our initial focus was on the sites which create the vital corridors which allow wildlife to travel back and forth to St Nicks, including Foss Islands Cycle Path, Tang Hall Beck and Osbaldwick Beck. However, in recent years our work has broadened to include external sites to St Nicks. A Heritage Lottery funded Meadow Keepers project reached across the city helping to support and improve grassland areas. Our involvement with the many amazing groups managing these sites started conversations about their own green corridors and what could be done on a bigger scale to improve biodiversity across the York landscape as a whole. These last few years has also seen us get more involved on our river catchments, the Ouse and Foss, both hugely important corridors for wildlife across our region. We have been working with the Tansy Beetle Action Group, River Foss Society, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency, City of York Council and other partners to build a better understanding of York’s wildlife sites and the corridors that connect them.
As our offsite work continues we have found others as keen as we are on joining up green spaces to create these corridors. Natural England are already doing amazing things by looking at ways to improve the corridors and buffer sites around the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve while The Woodmeadow Trust is in the process of instigating a network for meadow managers building on their wonderful work to create Three Hagges Woodmeadow.
To find out where we are currently focusing our efforts, and about other projects being run by partner organisations and groups, explore the WildYork website