In 2002, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Northumbrian Water Limited formed a Partnership to deliver conservation work at the 140ha Bakethin Nature Reserve at the northern end of Kielder Reservoir. The work delivered by the partnership, which involved NWT employing a dedicated, full time officer, soon expanded with the installation of the Wildlife Hide on The Beeches Walk at Kielder Waterside (Leaplish, as it was known back then) in 2005. The hide gives visitors the chance to see the elusive red squirrel as well as woodland birds like chaffinches, tits, woodpeckers and nuthatches. The partnership remit expanded further the following year to include setting up and managing the Wildlife Garden at Kielder Waterside.
Fast-forward 17 years and NWT now carries out work on six sites on NWL’s land across the county, from Cartington Spring near Thropton to Whittle Dene in Tynedale and across to Bakethin and Kielder Waterside. These sites contain a mixture of habitat types, such as woodland, meadows and wetlands and support a variety of wildlife from dragonflies to otters. Occasional work is carried out on other sites too, recently volunteer teams have been removing invasive rhododendron from Catcleugh Reservoir next door to NWT’s Whitelee Moor NNR.
A team of dedicated volunteers assist NWT’s Officer to carry out a range of habitat maintenance and improvement works as well as helping with visitor access works and species/habitat monitoring. There are also connections with other NWT projects – Restoring Ratty has monitoring rafts around Bakethin, Flexigraze provide grazing at Fontburn, Bakethin and Whittle Dene and Red Squirrels Northern England help monitor and maintain squirrel populations around Kielder and at Colt Crag.
In addition to the wildlife benefits, Northumbrian Water recognises the social value of the partnership and greatly values the role of the volunteers in helping to increase the biodiversity across the sites. The increase in the range of partnership work reflects the growing value of the partnership to both organisations and at Kielder the fact we are now looking beyond Bakethin and Kielder Waterside is recognition of the wider landscape scale working which is essential for wildlife.