Wildlife Welcome at Teesside Shopping Park

Wed, 02/05/2001 - 01:00

A view looking over the Phragmites reed pond at the rear of Teesside Park, where East Durham College students have been involved in managing the reeds using traditional methods. Photograph by East Durham College Student Andrew Docherty.

Teesside Shopping Park is investing £26,000 to improve the biodiversity of the land around the Park and give East Durham College students an open-air laboratory to study in.

The project, funded by Teesside Shopping Park’s owner British Land, also involves the Wolsingham-based ecologists Barrett Environmental Ltd; with the year-long campaign aiming to help insects, birds, animals and plants in the River Tees wildlife corridor.

Teesside Shopping Park staff will also get stuck in enhancing the habitat around the periphery of the Teesside Park site to increase its attractiveness to local wildlife.

There will be a range of public events and displays at Teesside Shopping Park Information Centre to highlight the work and encourage shoppers to join in.

Planned work includes reed bed management, tree pollarding, creation of islands, nest boxes, wildflower planting and improvements along the main access road to encourage wildlife to settle in and near the park.  The project will attract birds such as the oystercatcher, kingfisher, mute swan, water rail and mammals such as the otter, water vole and hedgehogs.

The practical work will involve Environmental Conservation students from East Durham College, local conservation volunteers, Teesside Shopping Park employee volunteers and school groups.

Extensive survey work will be carried out to identify the species and habitats found across the retail park to contribute to a management plan with nature conservation as its key theme.

Mike Clarke, manager at Teesside Shopping Park, said: “It’s great British Land is backing this exciting project with funds which will enable us all to make our environment more interesting and attractive to wildlife. Our staff look forward to working with the students and other volunteers to give the wildlife a helping hand.”

Jonathan Pounder, a Lecturer in Environmental Conservation at East Durham College, added: “This is a good example of how our students’ studies can have positive benefits for the local environment.

“The student groups have been involved in reed bed management, pollarding, planting and island construction, this will generate portfolio evidence towards their qualification and a haven for local wildlife. That’s a win-win situation all round!”