WATER FULFORD: Another CCT holding steeped in human and natural history?
In 2011 trustees of the Wormald Trust gifted some 54 acres of land at Water Fulford to CCT in memory of the late William Wormald.
Additionally CCT purchased a further 16 acres. Together this forms an important area of floodplain along the River Ouse part of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The meadow flora is species rich and the invertebrate assemblage is also of particular note with a number of Red Data species present. In terms of the Gollie ponds, they too have a nationally significant population of a rare water beetle present.
There is public access across the land but visitors are asked to respect the wildlife present in the fields, likewise the agricultural interest on the site. Whilst there is public access, dogs are required to be on leads and any ‘deposits’ made by them to be collected by the responsible owner and removed from site in the interests of health and safety of other visitors.
This site has a rich history as well as biodiversity interest and research is encouraged. However, anyone interested in undertaking a project of any kind needs permission from the land owner to do so. Ad hoc collecting is not permitted.
Regular visitors and residents will have noticed changes occurring over recent years. The site has been acquired for its nature conservation interest and this seeks to safeguard archaeological and wildlife value. The management, which is hoped will follow a traditional regime, will involve the grassland being cut for hay and the introduction of after math grazing by livestock. To facilitate this stock fencing has been erected. This conservation management has been agreed in conjunction with natural England, the Government’s agency and adviser on nature conservation.
Water Fulford is home to an important population of Tansy Beetle, known to some as ‘the jewel of York’ and Chrysolina graminis to others. This delightful charismatic beetle’s habitat is reduced to a 30km stretch along the banks of the River Ouse. It has declined over the years because of land use changes, habitat loss and a significant increase in invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam crowding out its food plant.
Historically the species was recorded in the Cambridgeshire Fens but that population fed on water mint. It was considered to be extinct at Wicken Fen in 1982 and whilst it is claimed to have been rediscovered at Woodwalton Fen this seems astonishing given the intensity that the Cambridgeshire sites are studied for their invertebrates that it had not been recorded in the intervening three decades or so. The complexities of an any reintroducion with stock from the York populations is not fully understood and the Tansy Beetle Action Group (TBAG) are monitoring the species carefully.
A captive breeding programme was initiated by Geoff and Roma Oxford, recognised experts who have studied the species for many years and this is designed to ensure that local sites where the species have been known from can, where appropriate be released in the right habitat. The study also provides useful understanding of the species autecological requirements.