Raisby Fen Restoration Protects Valuable Landscape

The latest phase of work to restore some of east Durham’s rarest natural habitats to their original condition has been completed

The Action for Raisby Fens Project, managed by the Durham Wildlife Trust and funded by a £4900 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, focuses on the restoration of neglected fen habitat along the Kelloe Beck Valley.

The latest work restored 0.5 hectares of fen and 0.2 hectares of important grassland, which contains the rare adder’s-tongue fern.

This land forms part of the Raisby Hill Grassland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which is also managed by Durham Wildlife Trust, and the work rolls the clock back to a time before they were devastated by human activity.

The project not only provides the means for management of these rare habitats, but also includes provision for public access, allowing people the opportunity to view these rare habitats and the species they support.

The majority of the work has been completed by groups of local volunteers who devoted their time to clearing scrub from the fen, which, if left, unchecked would have eventually replaced the fen flora.

Mark Dinning, Reserves Officer with Durham Wildlife Trust, says: “The Kelloe Valley once  supported a large area of fen and species-rich grassland. These habitats along the Kelloe Beck valley are now fragmented as a result of the action of industry and agricultural intensification, and are desperately in need of restoration.”

The restoration of the Kelloe Beck fens form an integral part of the restoration of the wider Kelloe Valley, identified within a target area by Durham Wildlife Trusts in their Living Landscapes vision. More work will take place in the future to restore further fen and rare grassland habitats along the Kelloe Beck.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “As a Durham-based business with a clear focus on the importance of operating in an environmentally-conscious manner, we’ve maintained a long and positive relationship with the Durham Wildlife Trust and are very pleased to be supporting their immensely-valuable work.

“The positive impact that this restoration work has had on an important part of our local environment is clear for all to see on site, and we hope that local people take full advantage of the wider access it provides to the area.”