Council helps nature blossom at Thorley Wash nature reserve
Thorley Wash Nature Reserve opened to the public on Saturday May 11 following a habitat restoration project to protect the wet grassland and important botanical species.
The project was awarded money from a number of agencies, including £64,288.80 from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), managed by East Herts Council. Funding was also secured from Growth Area Funding via Harlow Council, the Environment Agency, and the Highways Department of Hertfordshire County Council.
Noted for its botanical diversity, Thorley Wash is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It used to act as flood storage for the Stort navigation, but was decommissioned in 2004 and has since been restored back to a more natural state.
The grasslands support a variety of wildlife, including wildflowers, birds, dragonflies, reptiles and small mammals. The reserve is looked after by a fantastic team, including 12 water buffalo, whose grazing helps the wildflowers to emerge.
Thorley Wash is owned by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, who are a local charity with more than 22,000 members. The Trust manages a network of over 40 nature reserves, covering almost 2,000 acres of land.
Mike Carver, Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, said: "Thorley Wash is a beautiful site, and it has been a fantastic privilege for myself as the Chairman of the Eastern Plateau to be able to play a part in its restoration, by match funding with other organisations. There is such an amazing variety of wild plant and animal life on the reserve, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it grow and develop.
Dr Tom Day, Head of Living Landscapes at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, says: "Thorley Wash is a rare habitat so we were very pleased to receive £64,288.80 towards the project from the European Eastern Plateau Rural Business Development Programme, managed by East Herts Council. Many wet grassland habitats like those at Thorley have been drained, built on or turned over to farming across southern England since the Second World War."
"The grassland is relatively untouched, which is why it's so special for plants, insects and in turn all the other animals further up the food chain. The reserve is an important piece of the jigsaw that makes up the Stort Valley Living Landscape - our vision of how we can connect wildlife-rich areas like Thorley Wash together with others, to allow wildlife to move freely across our landscape."
For more information about Thorley Wash please visit Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
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