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Limefield Pit Nature Reserve - Restoration Project

 
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Limefield Pit Nature Reserve was given to the Essex Wildlife Trust by Uttlesford District Council over twenty years ago. It was the remaining part of the Little Walden Chalk Pit most of which had become the Limefield housing development.

The developer was persuaded to give the land (as a section 106 agreement with the UDC) - the plan was that this would preserve the geologically important chalk face and the botanically important chalk grassland wildflowers.

Unfortunately, the developer dumped a large amount of building waste on the floor of the chalk pit, destroying all but a small part of the chalk grassland.

The Essex Wildlife Trust was left with a small reserve and with problems with access by the public: the chalk face was unsafe, especially for children, and there were also problems with fly-tipping. So the reserve was fenced with high chain link and closed to the public except for geologists, who needed a special appointment to see the chalk face

Today the Essex Wildlife Trust, with over 8400 acres of reserves, needs to concentrate on its large reserves with visitor centres and has offered Limefield Pit to Walden Countryside in the hope that a small local organisation, with volunteer help from local residents, will be able to restore the wildlife value and allow controlled public access.

Both EWT and Walden Countryside want this project to go ahead but it can only do so if Walden Countryside can secure the help of a team of volunteers living in Saffron Walden.

We also must raise the funds needed for the work that needs to be done at the outset.

 

 

The geologically important chalk face

Chak cliff

 

 

Limefield Pit main entrance: impenetrable and unwelcoming

Limefield Pit gate

Here's what we hope to do

Get the building waste removed from Limefield Pit, re-exposing the chalky soil. This will allow the expansion of the small remaining wildflower-rich grassland to spread back across the floor of the nature reserve.

Manage the dense bramble to make it possible for visitors to explore the whole pit.

Retain the high fence (it would be dangerous to allow full public access) but make the fence more attractive by encouraging native wild climbing plants to grow over it

Recruit a team of "nature reserve wardens" each willing to take a turn once or twice a month to be present on the reserve when it will be open to the public. The warden for that time will welcome visitors, show them around if they wish and do some light habitat management work in between visitor-related tasks. We hope that, at a minimum, the reserve will be open every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and also be opened by arrangement at other times for school or other group visits.

The reserve is small and a new large housing development has been approved immediately to the north of the reserve. There is a risk the reserve will become a small island of green in a sea of brick. It is important that the reserve maintains countryside corridors around it for the benefit of wildlife and people. We will work with the developers and local councils to try and secure the protection of green space adjacent to the reserve and also to make it possible for people as well as animals to move between the reserve and Byrds Farm Lane which is a beautiful example of a traditional green lane.

 

 

 

Might you be able to help bring Saffron Walden's only nature reserve back to life?

Please email info@organic-countryside.co.uk for more information

 

 

Michael Gould

Michael died early in August. Before his final long illness he was an enthusiastic supporter of Walden Countryside and its work parties at Noakes Grove. His partner, Issa, has asked any of his friends who would like to make a donation in his memory to support Walden Countryside and, in particular, this Limefield Pit project. Please visit Michael's memorial page.

 

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Organic Countryside Community Interest Company
Trading as Walden Countryside
Company number 06794848 - registered in England
VAT No: 947 3003 317

Updated 20 August 2020