With a mission to prevent extinction, Chester Zoo sees the protection of UK wildlife to be as important as protection of biodiversity anywhere in the world - their Nature Reserve embodies this. The need for more effective conservation action in the UK is clearly evidenced by State of Nature report 2019 (Hayhow et al 2019). With extensive landholdings outside the core zoo, and an aspiration to manage land sensitively for wildlife, making a nature reserve was a natural step. The concept, born in 2007, underwent extensive consultation and data gathering before implementation. Phase 1 of the Nature Reserve opened to the public in 2014, Phase 2 in 2018.
The key aim is to contribute to national and local conservation strategies for appropriate species and habitats. Conservation impact is evaluated through measurable habitat creation/restoration and species monitoring, and management and monitoring strategies have evolved throughout the project. The secondary objective is to encourage people to engage with nature, and the reserve provides an additional free attraction for Zoo visitors and neighbouring communities. This engagement is assessed via feedback from events and activities.
The Nature Reserve provides a safe haven for a diverse range of Cheshire’s wildlife, and is helping to avert the ecological crisis we face. A meadow, ponds and woodland have been created, and reed bed and wetland enhanced. Feedback shows it is genuinely enjoyed and valued by the people who visit.
Chester Zoo submitted this project to the BIAZA Conservation category for 2020 and won a Silver award.