St Nicks (formerly St Nicholas Fields) Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is managed by a Nature Reserve Manager and Volunteer Park Ranger Interns who are responsible for planning and carrying out the practical management while also organising contracted works when required. The long term aims and objectives are applied from a working management plan to ensure that the site will continue to evolve in a way that is beneficial to both wildlife and the local community.
The maintenance of a diverse range of habitats is key to the value of this site as a LNR. These habitats provide an all year round haven for wildlife in a site which is surrounded by urbanisation.
The site is currently well-used by local people, dog walkers and school groups from around Yorkshire, and it is this recreational and educational value that we must also maintain. The infrastructure of the nature reserve along with its play area, fencing, benches and Environment Centre are all maintained on a daily basis by the Nature Reserve Management Team which includes around 200 volunteers donating over 8,000 hours of their time each year. From our Volunteer Park Ranger Interns and their team of conservation volunteers to our ever dependable weekly Wildwatch Group, volunteers are at the heart of the continued improvements to the LNR.
The wildlife management and development of the St Nicks LNR should:
The community development of the St Nicks LNR should:
Thinning of woodland and development of understory
Community woodland has developed and become overstocked and under thinned. The number of trees will be reduced through thinning. This provides an opportunity to develop woodland understory through an increase in light levels and new low level growth from coppicing large willows. Non-native species will also be reduced.
To complement the 32 recorded existing self-seeded apple trees and numerous damson and other fruit trees, more fruit trees were planted in 2012 which when matured will increase the amount of fruit available for both wildlife and human consumption.
The wildflower meadow has not developed as well as perhaps hoped and a programme of improvements will take place to introduce new and increase existing species in this area. As of spring 2016 we are also developing a new water meadow on site.
Beck management for water voles
Water Voles have been a very welcome addition to the LNR since first recorded in 2008 and regular sightings throughout the last four years have delighted many a Wildwatch Group volunteer. The fact that these endangered mammals are living in far from perfect beck habitats has given us reason to try and develop the habitats further. We are looking to protect the future of Water Voles on the reserve in a number of ways: increasing the amount of Water Vole vegetation available through planting, removing invasive plants such as Himalayan Balsam (which outcompete native plants and destabilise banks), felling large trees which overshadow vegetation, and also developing our monitoring and survey skills.
Foss Island Cycle Route
Foss Islands Route 66 Cycle Route is a stretch of old railway line which acts as a vitally important green corridor for the LNR. Under-management in previous years has provided the opportunity to the area to come under St Nicks management which will allow joined up management of the Route and the LNR.
Heritage skills and crafts
Heritage skills such as Scything, Green Woodworking, and Hedge Laying have all been developed within St Nicks both for the benefit of the LNR and also to provide training courses for volunteers, members of the public and other organisations in the area. Produce from the LNR including jams and chutneys, wines and cordials, and woodland craft items such as brooms, bird feeders are also sold.