Wildlife and nature conservation
Nature Conservation in Gateshead
From wonderful ancient woodlands to newly created wetlands and meadows, Gateshead is a great place for wildlife. Recently there has been a revival in the fortunes of some significant species in Gateshead including the Otter and a very successful release of Red Kites as part of the Northern Kites Project.
In Gateshead there are eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest (four of which are owned by the Council) 13 designated Local Nature Reserves, a United Nations Man and the Biosphere Reserve and over 100 Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (now called Local Wildlife Sites) over 20% of which are owned by the Council.
The Council is actively involved in nature conservation through a number of measures:
- We care for over 20 Nature Reserves and actively manage and monitor these sites to conserve and encourage opportunities for wildlife.
- We are involved in a number of habitat creation projects. A good example of this is the creation of new sites such as Lamesley Pastures and Burdon Moor and a project to help Otters to expand their range in Gateshead.
- We were an active partner in the development of the Durham Biodiversity Action Plan. This lists the 'priority' habitats and species at risk in the Borough and details practically how these can be conserved.
- We protect a wide range of wildlife habitats, designated sites, wildlife corridors and species through our planning system.
- We are also involved in some monitoring of wildlife across the Borough working with other organisations to encourage the adoption of wildlife-friendly practices.
- We have recently worked with Durham Bird Club, as part of the Birds of Durham Heritage Project, to reproduce an epic, comprehensive, scientific work following on from the historic 'A History of the Birds of Durham' by George W Temperley in 1951.
- We encourage residents to get involved in learning about and caring for wildlife and run a Voluntary Countryside Ranger scheme.
With a wide range of differing habitats Gateshead is a fantastic place to go birdwatching. 'Bird Watching' magazine described Gateshead as having some 'outstanding birding' for an urban environment. See ourand our detailed guide for more information.
Policy on balloon releases in Gateshead
In 2009 Gateshead signed a declaration, as part of the Durham Biodiversity Partnership's 10th Anniversary, not to undertake balloon releases or to permit them on council land.
The problem with balloon releases is that balloons are often carried out to sea - likely in Gateshead, given our proximity to the coast and the direction of the prevailing wind. They then drop into the sea to become marine pollution, being a particular problem for sea birds, which may then eat them and subsequently die. Although they may ultimately biodegrade, they don't do so quickly enough to prevent this from happening. Balloon releases are considered to be environmentally bad practice for this reason.
For more information about the effects of plastics on seabirds in our region visit the Natural History of Northumbria website.