September 26, 2019, by lzzeb

Science Group mapping a new future for Attenborough Nature Reserve

Suzanne McGowan reports on the first meeting of the Attenborough Science task group

Attenborough Nature Reserve is facing some important changes. Located between Beeston and Chilwell, and in the confluence of the Trent and Erewash Rivers, the reserve is an immensely popular site for local recreational and nature activities. The reserve is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, largely due to its importance for bird populations. Remarkably, the reserve was formed by quarrying for sand and gravel, starting over 70 years ago. The excavated holes fill with water, creating a series ponds and wetlands which have developed into diverse habitats for insects, birds, mammals, plants and aquatic life. This year sand and gravel extraction has finally ceased in this area, and the reserve ownership will be taken over by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

The transfer of ownership provides new opportunities for site management. To date, the site management has had to balance the requirements of nature conservation with those of sand and gravel extraction, which necessitates the use of transport barges. Cessation of the quarrying means that transport connections among ponds are no longer necessary, and the long-term plan is to reduce connectivity of the ponds with the River Erewash to improve water quality. Ongoing work in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham has been monitoring the water quality and hydrology of this site since 2005, providing important information to guide future management.

Barges have, until recently, been used to transport sand and gravel across the reserve

Future changes to the site require interdisciplinary thinking to plan the best way forward. The newly-formed Science Sub-committee held its first meeting at the Nature Reserve in June 2018. Composed of members from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, the Nature Reserve Management Committee, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University the group aims to enhance the wellbeing and sustainability of the Attenborough Nature Reserve SSSI.  The first meeting was very positive, discussing a range of options for site management, and ending with an inspirational scene as the moon rose over the reserve.

Attendees of the first Attenborough Science sub-committee meeting (L-R Phil Carter, Mike Spencer, Sara Goodacre, Graham Bowden, Janice Bradley, Sandy Aitken, Martyn Poliakoff, Gang Pan- and Suzanne McGowan is taking the photo)

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