Heathland Regeneration Project
SSSI heathland restoration
Approx. 11.9ha of the WMSP lies within the Devil’s Spittleful Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) (NGRef SO 808750) see back cover.
The site was declared a nature reserve in 1955 but the Park’s component was promptly forgotten about. Even the subsequent SSSI designation in 1987, acquired due to its supposed heath land characteristics, didn’t excite any interest and its degeneration into an advanced stage of woodland succession continued. In 1998 a private survey commissioned by WMSP found just four heather plants and concluded that the heath land was irretrievably lost. Only 5 bird species, all common species, were observed.
This prompted WMSP to approach Natural England and a unique pioneering agreement was reached whereby a small part of the site (2.97ha) could be utilised by the safari park operation in return for an undertaking that the entire hectareage be managed in a manner conducive to heath land restoration.
Since then the Safari Park has worked to restore the site to prime heath land. The initial tree clearance work took place over twenty years ago and from that point on the condition of the habitat has been steadily improving.
West Midland Safari Park
COMMENDATION received in BIAZA Awards 2012 for Best Field Conservation Project