Project information

Warleigh Wildlife & Nature Reserve

Now more than ever, we must secure the future of wildlife, ecology and biodiversity. AWT has successfully purchased two pieces of land with huge potential for biodiversity. Help us connect and integrate these 41 acres to create a flagship nature reserve so local wildlife can thrive in perpetuity.

December 2016 - December 2017

Charity information

Avon Wildlife Trust

Avon Wildlife Trust logo
  • Need


    England’s wildlife areas no longer provide a connected or resilient ecological network. Increased development, changes in farming practice, and increasing population have resulted in the environment becoming fragmented: landscapes are cut up and wildlife cut off. Habitats exist like islands, trapping wildlife. As a result, our wildlife cannot cope with the increasing challenges of climate-change and development. The wildlife we love is now in serious decline and facing an uncertain future.


    This project will create a NEW Nature Reserve. It will cover all activity needed to connect and restore 41 hectares of adjacent land in poor condition to transform it into a resilient ecosystem. Comprising wetland, ancient woodland, river, scrub, & rare calcareous grassland, this mosaic of habitats will benefit pollinators, breeding birds, threatened bats & rare plants. The project will result in a bigger, connected, wildlife-rich, ecological network + welcome people to take action for nature.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Create a resilient, connected ecological network that welcomes people to engage with wildlife.


    » Manage, enhance and join up the mosaic of habitats across the site to provide an integrated nature reserve.
    » Remove and replace fencing and create natural boundaries.
    » Improve access points for volunteer minibus and walkers.

    Unnatural internal boundaries removed; all land under management for wildlife benefit; access improved and parking area created for volunteer minibus, and reserve vehicles.

    Aim 2

    Restore the rare calcareous grassland to encourage pollinators to breed and thrive.


    » Cut the grassland when seed is set and redistribute across the site to encourage natural propagation of native wildflowers.
    » Work with local farmers to establish a rotational grazing regime to manage the grassland long term.
    » Establish an annual butterfly survey to record species presence and provide a baseline to evaluate species recovery.

    One successful hay-cut and distribution of 1/3 of cut seed on adjacent fields. A grazing regime agreed and in operation. Butterfly baseline survey conducted & data collated.

    Aim 3

    Restore the natural pond onsite to provide habitat for amphibians, pollinators and mammals.


    » Clear and extend the pond area to increase access and augment the course of the natural spring and run off to enhance bog habitat.
    » Support native growth and plant additional native, wildlife-friendly tree and plant life suitable for bog conditions.
    » Bio-blitz the area to record and measure species presence and baseline the annual evaluation of species recovery.
    » Install a dipping platform to enable educational activities for adults and children onsite.

    Pond & bog area cleared & water flow from springs enhanced, native bog plants introduced, pond dipping platform installed, baseline bio-blitz conducted & data collated.

    Aim 4

    Manage the ancient woodland to benefit wildlife


    » Fell and remove plantation growth.
    » Identify areas of high quality native wildflowers including bluebells, wood anemone and orchids and and thin woodland to encourage spread.
    » Remove the fence between woodland and grassland and develop a mid canopy to integrate the sites with wildlife-friendly edges.

    Fenced boundary removed and a mid-canopy in development to integrate the sites and increase the range of wildlife friendly habitats.

    Aim 5

    Connect people with the reserve and provide learning opportunities about the wildlife on site


    » Create & install interpretation to communicate the vision of the nature reserve, natural history & habitats, & highlight interesting wildlife.
    » Develop and deliver a local PR campaign to engage the community with the project and invite them to get involved.
    » Publicise and facilitate wildlife walks on site to connect people to the process of creating a nature reserve and explore local wildlife.

    3 Interpretation boards installed. Local PR campaign delivered inviting people to visit & enjoy the developing nature reserve. 2 wildlife walks delivered.

  • Impact


    The project will connect 41 hectares to secure, protect, improve and increase wildlife habitats & dependent species for the long term. Open to the public, free of charge all year round the reserve will educate & inspire the local community about the wildlife on their doorstep. Volunteers & groups engaged to measure wildlife recovery using surveys and bio-blitzes. We will demonstrate results in local media & online + hold wildlife-focussed events on the reserve so people can learn more.


    Potential relaxation of wildlife protection legislation as a result of the Brexit vote is a risk. This makes it all the more important for us to get this land under management and ensure it can be brought back into favourable condition for wildlife. Other risks include staff turnover as project delivery relies on internal expertise. Expertise is well shared and communicated internally to mitigate this. The reserve management plan provides a blueprint for restoration of the site.


    Donors will receive bi-monthly emails to update on progress & any necessary changes to project plans. Donors will be invited to development walks to explore the nature reserve’s progress. The Project will have a permanent page on our website, to be regularly updated with developments.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £32,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £7,500 Integrate habitats Remove & replace old fencing and integrate boundaries, restore & improve parking for vehicles
      £5,600 Grassland Restoration Hire of machinery for one hay cut and redistribute 1/3 seed on adjacent fields
      £2,410 Pond Restoration Materials &construction of pond dipping platform, purchase of native bog plants, bioblitz equipment
      £5,800 Woodland Restoration Fell and thin the woodland edge to improve the natural boundary
      £4,420 Public Engagement 3 x Interpretation boards, PR campaign (photography) public walks
      £6,270 Project Management & admin Project manage capital works, engage volunteers, admin and reporting
  • Background


    Warleigh Reserve is east of Bath on the River Avon between Dundas Aqueduct and Warleigh Weir. It is accessible for walkers and also from the river where people regularly canoe & swim. Otters can be spotted, along with rare bats and barn owls. Stunning bluebells carpet the woods in spring. Alongside natural history, the industrial evolution of humankind is clearly visible to the thousands of walkers who traverse the valley each year. The opposite slope hosts river, canal, railway line and road.


    The local village communities adjacent to the reserve and visitors to the Dundas Aqueduct and canal towpath. An established walk already crosses the land used by thousands each year, all of whom will benefit from the developing nature reserve. Local school children and students at Bath Universities can make use of the site for study and recreation. Others include volunteers from local companies, existing volunteer groups and AWT members and supporters.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    AWT is the largest local charity connecting people to nature to take action and provide a future for wildlife. We manage 36 nature reserves across the county. Last year we created a new nature reserve in an urban location on the edge of Bristol. We mobilised support from 1,500 volunteers. We have support from 17,500 members. We are the leading local wildlife experts, best placed to manage and restore this site so it becomes a flourishing, connected landscape for people & wildlife in perpetuity.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Chris Giles

    Head of Land Management - lead on all 36 nature reserves to ensure they are managed for the best impact on wildlife.

    Joe McSorley

    Reserves Manager (Bath & surrounds) - oversees daily management of reserves, employs volunteer teams, works w farmers & graziers, leads wildlife walks

    Ella Beeson

    Communications Officer - coordinates all local PR including national features on Springwatch, local TV news, local PR and social media.

    Julie Doherty

    Community Engagement & Volunteering Manager - engages 1000+ volunteers per yr to stand up for nature & improve their local environment for wildlife.