IMPORTANT habitats in Northumberland will be improved ahead of schedule after a county charity received a funding boost.
The grant of almost £30,000 from the Banks Community Fund will be allocated by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust (NWT) to its Cresswell Pond and Linton Lane sites, along with its Big Waters reserve on the outskirts of Newcastle.
The woodland at Linton Lane is now mature enough to require particular management – including the thinning and removal of a number of trees and opening up of woodland edge habitat – because it is valuable for the wet woodland plant species as well as the woodland edge butterflies.
The organisation is keen to undertake sustainable management of the reserve, so it will be making use of the thinned trees to provide path edging and chipping the wood to create a path surface.
It will also be installing a new link path between the bridleway and the eastern hide.
Work at Cresswell Pond will start later this year. It is envisaged that a team of staff and volunteers will install a new access point across the footpath to the viewing hide and build a small bridge over the Blakemoor Burn, both of which are required to help move livestock around the site to ensure appropriate levels of grazing.
This site is best known for its bird populations such as avocets, sedge warbler and reed bunting, which all utilise the fringing reedbeds.
In addition, the proposed work on the site will involve some reedbed management to help retain this valuable habitat.
Duncan Hutt, head of land management at NWT, said: “This extremely generous funding will allow us to kick-start our 2014 programme of restoration work.
“This money allows us to carry out the works much quicker than we thought, which is great news for our teams of enthusiastic volunteers.
“The Banks Group is a huge friend of the trust and the financial support we receive really does help make a difference to wildlife and local communities in the region.”
The company is a mining, property and renewable energy developer and as well as being gold corporate members, its Community Fund provided money for the SENSE (South East Northumberland Sustainable Environments) and SENSE II projects in the area for six years.