Chester Zoo are set to unveil a new 60,000m2 nature reserve – providing protected habitat for threatened British wildlife from kingfishers to hedgehogs, and a community space for relaxing and exploring nature.
What was farmland two years ago is being restored and coming alive. Sarah Bird, Biodiversity Officer at Chester Zoo, said: “It now comprises wildflower meadows, ponds, beetle banks, log piles, trees and a reedbed, with a hide for viewing the wildlife.
“Linking into the strip of wetland along the canal, the reserve provides a new wildlife refuge at the zoo, and creates a corridor of habitat allowing species to move through the landscape when they need to.
“We hope visitors will enjoy it too – and if people are inspired to act for wildlife at home in their own gardens then even better!”
Chester Zoo’s Wildlife Connections campaign, designed to connect people with UK wildlife, includes a range of ‘How To’ guides to help visitors create their own wildlife friendly spaces at home.
Across the UK, formerly widespread species such as water voles and the tortoiseshell butterfly are declining sharply. The new nature reserve is home to kingfishers, harvest mice, otters and many other species. Wide hedges, meadows and rough grassland at the reserve will be carefully managed to help hedgehogs, which have lost around 30% of their population since 2002, and bumblebees, that are struggling in the UK. Half of the nation’s 27 bumblebee species are in decline, and three are already extinct. Flowers like yellow rattle, red clover and knapweed in the wildflower meadow will provide valuable nectar and pollen to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
The new wildlife haven will be free to visit when it opens on Friday 27 April, including a fully wheelchair accessible trail.
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