Wilding West Chevington

From coal to climate: an ambitious rewilding project restoring a former opencast coal mine in North East England 

20220204 140510 Northumberland Wildlife Trust West Chevington

At a glance

Location

West Chevington, Northumberland

Area

277 hectares

Start date

2022

Scale

Medium

Habitats

Lowland, Broadleaved woodland, Wetlands (including peatlands and marsh), Rivers and streams, Grassland and meadow and Coniferous woodland

Key species

Marsh Harrier, Hare, Wading birds and Grassland butterflies

Rewilding actions

Extensive grazing, Habitat restoration, Tree Planting and Natural regeneration

Engaging people

Volunteering and Recreation

Northumberland Wildlife Trust have a vision to rewild a former opencast mine at Druridge Bay. The area is currently used for arable crops, hay production and coniferous forestry. This ambitious project aims to change land management approaches to kick-start natural processes, store more carbon, restore biodiversity and connect wildlife habitats at the local level. This will be done through a combination of natural regeneration of woodland and other habitats, the introduction of low levels of grazing animals, and some habitat restoration.

West Chevington will form part of the Wildlife Trusts larger network of sites supporting nature recovery. It is hoped that this will create a ’Living Landscape’ of sites for wildlife in the Druridge Bay Area, increasing the scale of opportunities for wildlife.

The project aims to support a volunteering programme to reconnect local people with the landscape and teach new skills.

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

Several different approaches will be tested to see how nature recovers across the site. This information will be used to inform the rewilding strategy and will also help other similar rewilding projects. Interventions will include the cessation of arable farming to encourage the natural regeneration of habitats, including woodland. Supplementary tree planting will also be undertaken to restore a seed source and diversity of native species. Low numbers of grazing animals will be introduced, including cattle, to mimic natural grazing.

Some habitat restoration is also proposed to create a mosaic of different opportunities, especially for pollinators and butterflies. This includes wildflower meadow creation and stream restoration.

Images: Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Gallery

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Future Plans

  1. 1 Implement a scientifically-robust monitoring regime
  2. 2 Consideration to the reintroduction of water voles and harvest mice
  3. 3 Test a number of rewilding methods to develop the rewilding strategy for the site
  4. 4 Development of wetland areas
  5. 5 Conversion of coniferous plantation to mixed woodland

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