NWT History


The Wildlife Trust movement started in 1912 with the formation of the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (now the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts) to preserve places of significant wildlife interest for the nation.

Environmental concerns spawn countryside movement

Gradually, in response to widespread devastation of natural habitats through expansion in agriculture, forestry and housing development, naturalists’ trusts formed in most counties across the UK. Now there are 47 Wildlife Trusts working to secure an environment rich in wildlife for everyone, with 850,000 members and 2300 reserves.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust milestones

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The formation of the Northumberland and Durham Naturalists’ Trust, based at the Hancock Museum, with Tony Tynan as its Founder.

We began campaigning against seal culling on the Farnes and against sand extraction at Druridge Bay, both of which subsequently ceased.

The first reserve acquired in Northumberland was Big Waters, a coal mining subsidence pond and now a haven for water birds, otters and butterflies, and one of our most popular reserves.

Rare bog habitats were leased from the Forestry Commission in Kielder, the first of 55 sites known as the Border Mires and now recognised to be of international importance and a Living Landscape project.

The amicable separation from Durham to form Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the first Trust in England to use the title ‘Wildlife Trust’.

1975 to date
The Trust surveyed and recorded around 250 Local Sites (until recently Sites of Nature Conservation Interest, or SNCIs) used by local planning authorities.

The acquisition of ex-opencast site at Low Hauxley, now internationally recognised as an important place for breeding and migrating birds.

The Trust produced a gold medal-winning natural garden, inspired by Monet, at the Gateshead Garden Festival, which created huge public interest.

NWT was the first voluntary nature conservation organisation in the country to earn the Investors in People award for attainments in managing and developing staff and volunteers.

We compiled, with the Natural History Society of Northumbria, the Red Data Book of Northumberland, a list of rare and threatened species which informed the Northumberland Biodiversity Action Plan.

The acquisition of Whitelee Moor, a rare blanket bog and heather moorland, one of the largest nature reserves managed by any English Wildlife Trust.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust turnover topped £1m, a reflection of continuing delivery capacity.

The hugely successful launch of the Living Landscape concept at The Sage Gateshead with Chris Packham.

After years of lobbying by the Wildlife Trusts, the Marine Act was passed to protect the marine environment.

The reception centre at Hauxley was burned down in June. We aim to build a new, exciting and exemplary ‘green’ facility on Druridge Bay to enable everyone to enjoy the experience of watching nature. We need £500k to complete the project and already have £200k in place. Please support our Hauxley Appeal if you can.

Outline approval was granted for the £4.2m Heritage Lottery funded Coal & Coast project, led by the Trust and the Druridge Bay Partnership.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust celebrated 40 years of protecting wildlife, and has over 12,500 members, 300 active volunteers and 40 staff caring for over 60 nature reserves.

Events included the installation of Tynan's Bank (a new sand martin bank) at our Hauxley nature reserve, a members’ cruise on the River Tyne with wildlife commentary and afternoon tea, and a spectacular wild evening with Chris Packham at the Journal Tyne Theatre

We also launched our successful appeal to lobby for Marine Protected Areas to safeguard the wildlife in the North Sea. Please visit our Living Seas page to explore our vision for marine wildlife into the future.