Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Nestlé agree deal to regenerate quarry

A disused quarry on the edge of Buxton is to be transformed into a 36-hectare haven for nature thanks to a new agreement between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and landowner Nestlé.

By Ed Dingwall
Friday, 25th February 2022, 10:17 am

The trust is set to take over the management of Cowdale quarry and surrounding areas of meadows and pastures in the Wye Valley, and regenerate the land as part of a wider network supporting the recovery of bird, mammal and plant populations.

Kate Bradshaw, living landscapes officer at the charity, said: “This beautiful and peaceful place has huge potential for wildlife and we’re honoured that Nestlé Waters have asked us to care for it.

“It is an exciting opportunity to create a haven for different wildlife, across woodland and grassland and improve flowering meadows as well as wetland areas. Using what we know from looking after other reserves in the Wye Valley and across Derbyshire, we should see an increase in the range and numbers of birds, animals and plants found here over the coming years.”

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Cowdale is one of only five sites recognised as being of outstanding national importance because of the rare survival of certain building types and for the completeness and diversity of surviving features.

The grassland and rock faces on the quarry floor offer a particularly good conditions for rare limestone-loving plants to thrive, and a promising habitat for birds including ravens and peregrines to make their homes in future.

The trust’s surveys have confirmed ancient woodland on site dating back to at least 1600, which could provide homes for birds such as song thrush and the locally rare plant, the mountain currant.

Other plants such as quaking grass, harebell, rock-rose and the melancholy thistle, which is rare to Derbyshire, have also been found growing in the area.

The trust will begin work this year and start by spreading native meadow seed to create a mosaic of flower rich grassland, wood pasture and scrub across the quarry floor.

Cowdale quarry, to the south-east of Buxton, is classified as a scheduled monument by Historic England.

This will improve the site not only for plants but for a range of insects and birds and new wetland areas will encourage insects and wetland loving wildlife including frogs, toads and newts.

The limestone bedrock beneath the site forms part of a natural water filtration system, and Nestlé hopes the new arrangement will allow the land to be cared for without the use of chemicals and with a positive impact on biodiversity.

Hayley Lloyd House, head of sustainability at the company, said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, to manage our land at Cowdale and Lightwood.

“Working with their team of experts has helped us to understand the ecological environment around our water sources and develop regenerative land management plans.”

The site offers particularly good conditions for plant species which have become rare in Derbyshire.

She added: “These are long term plans to help protect and regenerate nature on site for years to come, creating places where wildlife can thrive and in turn, nature will continue to inspire local people in the community.

“By doing the right thing above ground, we are also helping to protect what’s underground; the purity of one of the planet’s most precious and greatest assets, water.”

In response to the global climate and ecological crises, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is aiming to restore at least a third of Derbyshire’s lost natural features by 2030.

To learn more about its work and how you can make a difference, go to www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/support.

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