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A view of the site in Consall that the RSPB will be managing.
The RSPB has taken on the management and day-to-day running of Consall Nature Park, owned by Staffordshire County Council, which lies next to one of the charity's existing reserves.

Nature area under new management

A Staffordshire beauty spot is to be managed by an internationally-renowned nature conservation charity.

Staffordshire County Council and the RSPB has agreed a 100-year lease for the charity to take over the management and day-to-day running of the local authority-owned Consall Nature Park.

The RSPB will be managing Consall Woods on a 100-year lease for the benefit of visitors, woodland birds and other wildlife as well as the woodland mix of trees including oak, birch, ash, hazel, hawthorn and pine, that already provide homes for birds such as pied flycatcher, redstart, lesser spotted woodpecker and spotted flycatcher.

The agreement is one of two where groups have successfully applied to manage and maintain parts of the county council’s countryside estate. The other has seen Heath Hayes and Wimblebury Parish Council take on the management and maintenance of Wimblebury Mound picnic area to the north west of Chasewater.

Mel Dyer, RSPB Site Manager, said:

We are delighted to be taking over the management of and giving nature a home at Consall Nature Park. The leasing of Consall Nature Park is contributing to our reserves priorities in the RSPB and will secure a better future and management of the Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Churnet Valley. This agreement on a long lease will take our reserve footprint from just over 200 to 300 hectares giving us the opportunity to broaden our impact for woodland wildlife and for visitors to the reserve.”

Since the mid-1980s the RSPB has owned and managed 100 hectares (250 acres) of broadleaved woodland and grassland adjacent to Consall Nature Park known as RSPB Churnet Valley reserve. This reserve extension will allow the RSPB to directly manage more land for the benefit of wildlife and people in the spectacular Churnet Valley.

The RSPB aims to increase the population size of the special woodland birds, such as pied flycatcher, create suitable habitat for willow tit, and increase the overall biodiversity of the site where we hope to welcome more visitors to also see the spectacular views as well as orchids, bats, butterflies, moths and other invertebrates.

The RSPB would like to thank Staffordshire County Council and the staff involved with Consall Nature Park for the management of a fantastic network of woodland trails, which the reserve team based at RSPB Coombes Valley will in future be responsible for, alongside the car parks and fishing ponds.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet for Communities, said:

The RSPB is a charity with international recognition of its conservation expertise.

Having its site and ours side-by-side allows economies of scale in maintenance costs and will improve the public’s enjoyment of the area.”

The appointments are part of a continuing review of the county council’s countryside estate, which comprises six large country parks, nine smaller picnic sites and three greenways – disused railways lines now used as cycle ways.

Gill Heath added:

We are retaining ownership of these sites, but we want to work with other organisations to manage them in a financially sustainable way so that future generations can carry on enjoying them.”

The transfer will take place on 23/9/2019. Visitors can access the site free 365 days a year, but the RSPB will be asking for donations to the charity to help run the reserve. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead at all times to protect the sensitive wildlife.

Mel Dyer, RSPB site manager, added:

Everyone is very excited to take on the management of this spectacular woodland for both people and wildlife to enjoy and to get to know the visitors of this special site.”