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Tree planting marks 65th anniversary for Wrens Nest

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Volunteers planted 65 trees at Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve (NNR) yesterday (8 December), marking the reserve’s 65th anniversary since it became a National Nature Reserve.

Dudley Council purchased the saplings and were joined by Natural England and the Friends of Wren’s Nest Nature Reserve for the occasion, which also celebrates a small extension to the official nature reserve site to incorporate land formally owned by Dudley College.

Surrounded by houses, the Wrens Nest is a rare mix of disused limestone quarries and caverns, limestone grassland, hay meadows, hedges and woodland.

The local authority hopes to plant more trees at the nature reserve this winter and the reserve will measure a total of 50.78 hectares when the new spaces are added in.

NNRs are designated by Natural England and are acknowledged as rare and precious areas which protect some of our country’s most important places for wildlife and geology.

Dudley Council last year received ‘Approved Body’ status from Natural England for the management of Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve, recognising their work as national best practice in terms of geo-conservation and engagement of people. The site has also been extended to make it bigger, better and more joined up demonstrating the benefit of managing geodiversity and biodiversity together.

Today, there are more than 200 NNRs in England with the first NNRs declared in the 1950s. Today NNRs showcase the best of conservation practice aimed at protecting habitat, wildlife and geology alongside supporting research, education and recreation where people can enjoy and engage with our shared heritage.

Dudley Council’s cabinet member for public realm, who planted one of today’s saplings, has pledged a commitment to increase the number of trees being planted across the borough to help meet the government’s target of net zero by 2050.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for public realm, said:

It was a pleasure to be at Wrens Nest today and a huge thanks must go to the team and hard-working volunteers who do so much for this site.
Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve is a jewel in the crown for Dudley and is known as the home of the iconic Dudley Bug. It was also the first reserve to ever be given national nature reserve status for its geology.
We are committed to working with organisations and partners to continue to play our part in the fight against climate change and I am sure these trees will grow and flourish on this special site.

Jonathan Larwood, Palaeontology and Geology Specialist at Natural England, said:

National Nature Reserves are among our most wonderful natural areas, they are also at the very heart of our ambition to create a Nature Recovery Network, to restore the beauty, diversity and health of nature across the country.
The limestone quarries and caverns of the Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve reveal a Silurian world of tropical seas and reefs that teemed with life 428 million years ago.
Wrens Nest is one of our first and most important geological NNRs. As well as celebrating 65 years since it was first declared, awarding Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council with NNR ‘Approved Body’ status reflects their commitment to geo-conservation, and underlines their exemplary management of the Wren’s Nest and geology across the borough.
The Wrens Nest reserve offers great opportunities for people to connect with nature, and to experience some wonderful wildlife - past and present. Extending its boundary contributes to our shared ambition for Nature Recovery, managing its geodiversity and biodiversity together.

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Natural England background information

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) were established to protect some of our most important habitats, species and geology, and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. NNRs offer great opportunities to the public, schools and specialist interest groups to experience wildlife first hand and to learn more about nature conservation. 

The total number of NNRs in England is 224 with a total area of over 99,000 hectares. Around one third of all species recorded in the UK can be found on NNRs. 

Natural England manages about two thirds of England’s NNRs. The remaining reserves are managed by a wide variety of organisations approved by Natural England, including the RSPB, National Trust, Forestry Commission, Wildlife Trusts and local authorities. Many NNRs are jointly managed through local partnerships.

Wren’s Nest NNR was originally declared in 1956 as a Section 16 NNR under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Nature Reserve Agreement which underpins the NNR expired in 2010 when the NNR was put into Countryside Stewardship.

Dudley Council has since been given ‘Approved Body’ status and Natural England have de-declared Wren’s Nest as a S16 NNR and re-declared it as a S35 1(c) NNR under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Natural England have also designated the adjacent Local Nature Reserve areas of land managed by DMBC by extending the NNR boundary into those areas.

For further information about Natural England, contact Linda Parker, communications specialist, linda.parker@environment-agency.gov.uk, 07775 229576.

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