Campaign to save Leeds fields full of wildlife for future generations needs £500,000

Trustees of East Keswick Wildlife Trust surveying the site at Bardsey FieldsTrustees of East Keswick Wildlife Trust surveying the site at Bardsey Fields
Trustees of East Keswick Wildlife Trust surveying the site at Bardsey Fields
A West Yorkshire community group are trying to raise half a million pounds to save fields full of flora and fauna for future generations.

Bardsey Fields, between Wetherby and Harewood in North Leeds, is being earmarked for sale.

The 50 acre piece of land, which is privately owned, is home to a myriad of wildlife and plants and is described by East Keswick Wildlife Trust as “the green heart and lungs of Bardsey.”

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Over 40 varieties of bird breed on the site, and there are estimated to be over 260 types of wildflowers growing.

The Trust now wants to purchase the land but has been told it must raise some £500,000 by November 24 to put in an informal tender.

If successful, campaigners at the Trust say they will preserve the fields for future generations and create a path so that local children can pass through them on their walk to school.

Currently there is no public access to the land.

David Smith, chair of the Trust, said: “The wildlife, flora and fauna are absolutely fantastic on this site. We want to look after what is already there in a much better way to improve the site for wildlife.

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"The Trust has a long history of managing local land for nature.

"Water voles have been seen on it, and they’re in national decline and are a priority species to try to get back onto the site.

"The flora is superb. It’s unimproved pasture and hasn’t been under the plough for decades and hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides.

"We’ve got a growing population and certaintly there’s a need for housing. But to put housing on a site that is wildlife pastures is the wrong place to put it.

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"It’d be a tragedy if this special site was lost. We don’t object to building per se, but not to put it on a wonderful wildlife site.

"To find 50 acres like this is remarkable.”

The appeal has been successful in the community thus far, and Mr Smith said that the Trust now feels it is on the “home straight.”

But more donations are needed to ensure it can put a good bid in, he said.

Donations made via the Trust’s JustGiving website will go towards community and nature work if the bid is unsuccessful.

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The appeal has also been backed by local figures, including Graham Parry, the headteacher of Bardsey Primary School.

He said: “I think the suggestion of a nature reserve is a lovely one and something that the pupils of Bardsey Primary would benefit from greatly.

"Not only would it offer opportunities to enhance their learning outside the classroom for subjects such as science and geography, but it would also provide timely opportunities to educate and raise awareness in relation to the climate emergency we are experiencing.

"Footpaths through the reserve would also provide a unique and safe walking route to school for many of our families which would help to reduce congestion and pollution locally.”