New wildlife haven could be ‘flagship nature reserve’ for Northern Devon

Devon Wildlife Trust staff begin surveying their new nature reserve - the former clay quarries at Meeth, near Hatherleigh. Devon Wildlife Trust staff begin surveying their new nature reserve - the former clay quarries at Meeth, near Hatherleigh.

Monday, January 28, 2013
4:09 PM

Devon Wildlife Trust has purchased a 150 hectare quarry to transform into a wildlife haven.

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A VAST new wildlife haven will be created at the former Meeth Quarry which has recently been purchased by Devon Wildlife Trust.

The trust bought the 150 hectare site with funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company and individual donors.

Meeth Quarry is a former clay works owned by Imerys, located close to Hatherleigh within the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area and the North Devon Biosphere.

Matt Boydell, Devon Wildlife Trust’s land manager, said the site housed a variety of different habitats.

“The site is a spectacular, recovering landscape, with vast areas of open water, wet grassland, stone quarry face and woodland,” he said.

“It incorporates six threatened wildlife habitats, supports 18 species of national importance and will provide a haven for a huge range of bird life, making it an excellent winter wildlife-watching destination for local communities.”

The site also contains open water areas used by flocks of foraging swallons and house martins.

“All records to date cover the breeding season, and we don’t yet know what species are present during the autumn migration or over the winter,” said Mr Boydell.

“Meeth Quarry is likely to be an important staging post for Scandinavian and Siberian migrants such as woodcock, fieldfares and redwings.

“There is also considerable potential to manage the wetland and open water areas to benefit snipe and a range of ducks and other wildfowl, making the quarry an excellent winter wildlife-watching destination for local communities.”

There is currently no public access to the site but it adjoins Devon Wildlife Trust’s existing nature reserve at Ash Moor and is adjacent to the Tarka Trail.

Essential infrastructure and access work to open the quarry to the public by the spring will begin with support from Natural England.

Harry Barton, Devon Wildlife Trust’s chief executive said the quarry had the potential to become a flagship nature reserve in the heart of the Northern Devon nature improvement area.

He added: “One that will offer year-round opportunities to see fascinating wildlife and a living demonstration of landscape restoration in action.

“There is still a lot to be done, but we will continue to work hard to secure the funding and resources needed to realize the full potential of this fantastic asset in terms of benefits to both wildlife and the wider community.”

To find out more about Meeth or any of Devon Wildlife Trust 47 other nature reserves then visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org

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