Wildlife Trust

by Joe Waistell, multimedia journalism student

A suspiciously warm October morning soon turned into a cold, wet afternoon, but it wasn't enough to deter Teesside University volunteers from the task ahead of them.

Working with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, the tasks for the day were, helping with the restoration of a wildflower meadow at their Portrack Marsh reserve in Stockton, and starting to create a new footpath, to encourage more visitors to the area. Over the next year there are plans to turn the path into a nature trail to give schools and other visitors more information about the reserve.

The wildflower meadow was home to many rare flowers and rare butterflies such as the Dingy Skipper, however excessive flooding earlier this year managed to wipe out much of the wildlife and growth in the meadow. By removing the reeds that grew in place of the wildflowers, we were able to help prevent change in the soil's composition and allow the former life to be restored to the meadow.

The task of clearing reeds sounded not too different to a little gardening work; however after being presented with an assortment of sharp implements that could easily have been lifted from the set of a horror film, it became apparent this wasn't quite the same as trimming the hedges at home. The large area of reeds may have seemed daunting at first but it was no challenge at all for our volunteers who jumped right in and made easy work of it despite the adverse weather conditions.

In the end a fun day was had by all and it was a job well done with a reed free marsh, and a start made on the footpath that was sure to be the beginning of a brighter future for the Portrack Marsh reserve and the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust.