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Helping nature to thrive at Hell Wath with the Skell Valley Project


During December, nature will be given a helping hand as work begins at Hell Wath Local Nature Reserve in Ripon to restore precious wildlife habitats.

This vital nature conservation work is part of the £2.5m four-year Skell Valley Project, a scheme co-led by the National Trust and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Skell Valley Project is working with Harrogate Borough Council to deliver the Friends of Hell Wath Nature Reserve Management Plan, part of a wider scheme of work that will help nature to thrive in the Skell Valley and Ripon.

Hell Wath is a wildflower rich grassland, home to species such as common spotted orchid and cowslips as well as botanical rarities such as adder’s-tongue fern and bee orchid. Invasive ‘scrub’ is spreading across the open grasslands, swamping out the wildflowers and reducing the feeding opportunities for butterflies and other pollinators.

Councillor Andrew Paraskos, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, said:

Scrub, the bushes and thicket that develop at the edge of woodland, is an important wildlife habitat but left unchecked it can lose its value for nature and overwhelm the delicate grassland.

While it can seem counter-intuitive to remove trees to help nature, this work is about maintaining the overall importance of the habitat at Hell Wath so that as many species as possible can flourish.

The scrub removal is part of a wider scheme of work that will be delivered at Hell Wath as part of the Skell Valley Project. During the winter a silted-up pond will be reinstated which will restore habitat for amphibians and a range of dragonflies. In coming years, the Project will be working to improve footpaths on the reserve, with better waymarking and interpretation.

Nabil Abbas, Project Manager for the Skell Valley Project said:

By working with our partners at Harrogate Borough Council and the Friends of Hell Wath, the charity established by volunteers to care for the site, we can make a real difference for nature in Ripon and for the people who enjoy visiting this lovely green space. We’re passionate about encouraging people to get involved in caring for the nature, wildlife and heritage around them. Next year there will be a programme of events giving people the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife in their local area.

For more information about the project visit: nationaltrust.org.uk/skellvalleyproject

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