Deep in the urban jungle, something exotic stirs...
Thursday 22 May 1997
The granting of these top habitat accolades to sites in London and Birmingham shows just how important urban greenery has become to beleaguered wildlife.
"Nimby" campaigns saved them from being smothered in houses as the cities expanded earlier this century. Now they provide a refuge for declining species as well as refreshing millions of human visitors.
National Nature Reserve status brings prestige, stronger protection from any threat of development, and a better chance of attracting public and private sector grants for improvement works. English Nature, the Government agency which designates the reserves, says the two new urban sites would qualify even if they were in deep countryside, because of their richness of species and habitats and the excellent prospects for preserving them.
But the reserves' proximity to the city also exposes them to fly-tipping and vandalism.
Ruislip Woods, on the north-west fringe of London, was officially declared a National Nature Reserve yesterday. Covering just over a square mile, the woods are home to seven of the 14 bat species found in the British Isles and a recent survey found more than 500 different species of fungi.
Three sides of the woods are bordered by Metroland suburbs - Pinner, Ickenham, Ruislip, Northwood - while the fourth faces the Green Belt. The bulk of the woods had been owned for more than four centuries by King's College, Cambridge but in the 1920s Middlesex County Council bought them to stop them being built on.
Today the woods, with their green woodpeckers and woodcocks, are owned and managed by the London Borough of Hillingdon under the watchful eye of a Ruislip Woods Trust.
Coppicing has been revived, with the wood sent to make pulp at a paper mill in Gwent. A herd of hardy long horn cattle graze Poor's Field, a meadow on the edge of the woods, to prevent scrub invading the grasses and wildflowers.
Sutton Park, four square miles of ancient woodland, heathland, bogs and a golf course on the north-eastern edge of Birmingham, is surrounded by built-up land. It was declared a National Nature Reserve on the last day of March.
It was given to the people of Sutton Coldfield by Henry VIII in 1528, and is owned and managed by Birmingham City Council. More than 2 million people visit each year.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 3 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
Heroin to be prescribed to Canadian addicts by doctors
Audacious North Korean kidnap plot foiled at Paris airport as 'Asian men' attempted to bundle student onto plane
Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby – through the stories of his accusers
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...
£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...