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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.

There are lots of ways you can help wildlife at home - visit our Do One Thing for wildlife page for some suggestions.

We are protecting, conserving and enhancing biodiversity by:

  • Sustainable land management
    We care for over 20 nature reserves and actively manage and monitor these sites to conserve and encourage opportunities for people to enjoy wildlife. For more information visit our countryside sites pages.
    We also own and sensitively manage large areas of accessible natural greenspace where people can have access to natural places in their local neighbourhoods. 
  • Nature and Wildlife
    Special projects
    We have been involved in a number of innovative habitat creation and reclamation projects including the creation of new woodlands and wetlands, such as Cross Lane Meadows Local Nature Reserve (now managed by Durham Wildlife Trust) at Swalwell and Burdon Moor at Sunniside, and a project to help otters to expand their range in Gateshead.
  • Designated wildlife sites
    In Gateshead there are 8 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, four of which we own, 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.
    Whilst seeking to conserve priority sites we also recognise that wildlife moves between sites may need protecting across wildlife corridors and across the whole of the Borough and our work recognises this.
  • Priority species and habitats
    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. For information on priority habitats and species visit the North East England Nature Partnership¬†website (opens new window). (Gateshead is listed under Durham).
  • The planning framework
    We protect a wide range of wildlife habitats, designated sites, wildlife corridors and species through our planning system. We aim to avoid or minimise the negative effects of developments on biodiversity and bring about positive gains for wildlife. For more information on planning policy in Gateshead and information on the Local Plan visit our Making Spaces for Growing Places  page.
  • Monitoring wildlife and research
    We are involved in some monitoring of wildlife across the Borough working with other organisations to encourage the adoption of wildlife-friendly practices. We welcome the work of volunteers with expertise in this area, special interest groups and educational establishments to undertake wildlife surveys in the Borough.
  • Volunteering and events
    Helping people to volunteer is one of our big ideas and we wouldn't be able to conserve and enhance wildlife without the help of our residents. We support a wide range of volunteers including wildlife 'friends of' groups, people engaged in wildlife surveys and our own volunteer countryside rangers.
  • We encourage residents to get involved in learning about and caring for wildlife by supporting our partners including the Durham Wildlife Trust (opens new window) which runs school education programmes and wildlife events for everyone. View our page for more information on countryside and wildlife events.

New woodlands in Gateshead

One target we have proactively been working towards is the creation of new woodlands. With our partner The Woodland Trust (opens new window) we aim to create 60 hectares of new woodland, planting approximately 150,000 trees in Gateshead in the next few years. These new woodlands will create places for people to enjoy and enhance biodiversity.
Visit the Woodland Trust website (opens new window) for information about one of the projects, Hedley Hall. 

We are also working with Newcastle University, measuring how these sites can play a role in carbon capture and we would be interested in monitoring how trees can improve air quality.

Gateshead is quite extraordinary in Tyne and Wear for the quantity and quality of its woodlands, and this has been in part due to strong planning policy in the Borough and a tradition of supporting woodland protection and expansion.

Six woodlands in Gateshead were nominated by Evening Chronicle readers (opens new window) as 'beautiful winter walks and woodland outings across the North East':

Wildlife watching

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 our  Wildlife guide (PDF) [875KB] (opens new window)  and our Red Kite Trail (PDF) [864KB] (opens new window) 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 (opens new window).

See also

Green Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2013 - 2030 (PDF) [2MB] (opens new window)

Countryside sites and country parks

North East England Nature Partnership (opens new window)

Contact us

Natural Environment Projects
Communities and Environment

Built and Natural Environment
Development, Transport and Public Protection,
Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HH.

0191 433 3443