Extra pairs of hands in need to protect wildlife

Volunteers are sought for a new project to protect an important wildlife corridor used by birds, bats and other species in York.

Members of the team who are working on the Foss Islands Path in York.

National sustainable transport charity Sustrans is working with local charity St. Nicks to help look after Foss Islands Path, a traffic-free cycle and walkway between the centre of York and Osbaldwick village - but it is seeking extra pairs of hands.

The route runs alongside St Nicholas Fields nature reserve at Clifton Backies; a haven for rare species such as the water vole and pipistrelle bat, and to protect the environment, volunteers are needed to work with teams from St Nicks and Sustrans.

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Responsibilities for those who get involved will include monitoring wildlife, along the path, keeping it litter free and managing trees and vegetation.

Rupert Douglas, area manager for Sustrans, said: “Foss Islands Path provides a peaceful cycle and walkway for local people and tourists, but its trees, hedges and grassland means it also acts as a highway for wildlife travelling between the city’s two nature reserves. This work is only possible with the help of local volunteers, so please do get in touch if you would like to get involved.”

The initiative is supported by City of York Council’s iTravel York programme and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT). With extra funding from JRHT additional work will also soon commence to improve drainage in an attempt to prevent the path from flooding.

Foss Islands Path attracts many residents cycling and walking from the Derwenthorpe housing development into the city centre, and is used by hundreds of cyclists every day. It is part of the 170 mile coast to coast - Way of the Roses route, which runs between Morecambe and Bridlington.

Jonathan Dent, the nature reserve manager at St Nicks said: “We know that a lot of the wildlife we monitor in our nature reserve gets to the site along Foss Islands Path so it makes sense to manage them together.

“We want to work to improve these habitats for nature as well as people, and improve the opportunities for picking fruit such as apples, blackberries, plums and sloes along the route too.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer to help make Foss Islands Path more wildlife friendly, or to help with some of the general maintenance tasks at the site, can contact the project’s organisers by emailing them at [email protected]