Due to loss of important habitats such as wildflower rich grassland and heathland Wildlife including invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds are having to take refuge on brownfield sites such as old extraction pits, former landfill sites and even active industrial sites such as steelworks, all of which can be found in the Scunthorpe area.
Thanks to funding provided by The SITA Trust, Buglife, in partnership with Humber INCA, North Lincolnshire Council, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Tata Steel, has surveyed and managed 6 brownfield sites in North Lincolnshire to discover more about the amazing wildlife that can be found on brownfield sites.
In 2011 and 2013 invertebrate surveys covering bees and wasps, spiders, beetles, butterflies, moths and flies were carried out on all project sites. Resulting from these studies we have discovered that the project sites, (Sawclife LNR, Ashbyville LNR, Conesby Quarry and Blue Lagoon, Messingham Sand Quarry SSSI and Tata Steel), are supporting rarer species such as the Ruby tail wasp (Chrysis viridula), Grayling (Hipparchia semele) and the crane-fly (Nephrotoma crocata). Scunthorpe Moth Survey results have been collated in a download.
Tata Steel is a vast site of approximately 1200ha situated to the east of Scunthorpe. Due to the industrial processes that have taken place on site dating back to the 1800s, coupled with lack of management and cycles of disturbance and abandonment, the site currently supports a diverse mosaic of habitats including bare ground, species rich grassland, scrub, woodland, wetlands, lagoons, ponds and ditches. To maintain this variety of habitats some management work is required. Working with Tata Steel, Humber INCA and The Conservation Volunteers (TVC), Buglife carried out a range of management works including: woodland and scrub thinning to encourage the development of remnant heathland and lich heath habitat; and creation of numerous scrapes, cliff re-facing and bee banks to provide nesting and basking habitat for species such as solitary bees and wasps. Creating additional habitat features such as dead hedges and habitat piles provides refuge for invertebrates and a range of wildlife such as small mammals and amphibians.
Habitat management works at Sawcliffe LNR has largely been focussed on improving the wildflower diversity of the site. This was achieved by cutting meadows and glades and removing the cut material from the site. We also seeded with a wildflower seed mix containing nectar and pollen rich species such as Black knapweed, Kidney vetch, Red clover and Devil’s-bit scabious. TCV and their volunteers also thinned sections of the wooded glades to widen the grassland areas. Brash was stored on site as habitat piles away from the open grassland areas and will provide shelter for a range of invertebrates and other wildlife.
Habitat management works carried out at Ashbyville LNR included: a) thinning of the hawthorn understorey within a woodland block to encourage the development of ground flora. These works were carries out by TCV and their volunteers and will continue on a rotational basis by North Lincolnshire Council volunteers, led by the site warden; b) 1ha of wildflower rich meadow was created to increase the forage resource for pollinators. The area predominantly consisted of bricks and rubble, with some tall grasses and species such as thistles. The area has since been seeded and plug planted with species such as Bird’s-foot trefoil, Ox-eye daisy, Selfheal and Yarrow providing pollen for a variety of invertebrates throughout the spring and summer; and c) In 2011 approx 20 tonnes of sand taken from a nearby housing development was placed onto a fairly barren, stoney area of the site and allowed to establish. This was an experimental area of habitat creation which we monitored throughout the project. Initially the area became quickly dominated by species such as Rosebay willowherb and Creeping thistle. Over the past 3 years the floral assemblage has diversified and supports a range of species including Viper’s bugloss, Weld and Mullein.
Messingham Sand Quarry SSSI
Working with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, volunteers and contractors we created a number of scrapes providing areas of bare ground with the hope that this will encourage a wider range if wildflowers to establish. The arisings generated from the scrapes were shaped into bee banks providing further new habitat.
In another area of the reserve a proportion of an existing sandy exposure was re-faced, and a new 10m stretch of sandy cliff was also created to provide additional habitat for nesting solitary bees and wasp. Small scrapes removed from a mossy wetland area has now filled with water providing breeding habitat for dragonflies and amphibians.