The reserve was established in 2012 by an enthusiastic group of local residents who saw the potential to establish a nature reserve with benefits for both wildlife and the community. Prior to the establishment of the reserve, the land (owned by Tewkesbury Borough Council and two house building companies) was used for informal recreation and farming, with little formal management of the land for wildlife or public access. The aim of the new venture was to create a valuable green space that would enhance biodiversity, increase flood protection and improve urban drainage, while providing recreational and educational facilities for the community.
A successful application for £18,000 was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund to finance the setting up of an organisation to administer the project. A company limited by guarantee was set up, and Tewkesbury Nature Reserve Ltd was formed, with the primary tasks of securing an income stream to develop the reserve and acquiring management rights on the land.
Valuable support was secured from external organisations such as the Environment Agency (EA), Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC), Natural England (NE), the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT). WWT in association with the EA undertook a survey of the site which then formed the basis of a detailed plan for its environmental enhancement including diversifying the habitats and alleviating flood risks.
TNR was accepted by Natural England to undertake a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme. This forms the basis of our land management and currently provides a source of income to cover some of our costs. In 2014 we were successful in applying for a grant of £240,000 from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust (GET) which administers the income from the landfill levy. This has enabled us to undertake a significant part of the plans prepared by WWT and also install infrastructure to assist us in fulfilling our obligations under HLS.
In 2015 we secured an initial 30 year lease on the land from Tewkesbury Borough Council, thereby securing the long-term future of the land for the people of Tewkesbury and visitors to the town.
Our vision is for:
A community nature reserve, combining a haven for wildlife with a place where people can connect with nature.
Our mission is to:
· Establish, develop and maintain a community nature reserve, by protecting, improving, and conserving the natural environment, enhancing the biodiversity of the site, and alleviating the impacts of flooding.
· Make the reserve accessible to the public as a place for recreation, education, and the promotion of health and wellbeing, while balancing the needs of visitors with those of the natural environment.
· Develop the reserve as an outdoor learning environment, and promote an understanding and appreciation of, and respect for, nature and wildlife across all age groups through active community participation.
Our Strategic Objectives for the period 2017 – 2022 are to:
1. Develop and manage the reserve to further enhance the biodiversity of fauna and flora.
2. Recognise our role within a “Living Landscape”, working in partnership with other organisations and individuals to ensure the reserve plays its part in the wider context of the natural environment of the river corridor and local region.
3. Make the reserve accessible to all as a place where people can connect with wildlife, with benefits for education, physical and mental health, and wellbeing.
4. Engage the local community in enjoying and caring for the reserve, encouraging a respect for nature combined with ownership and pride in a valued local amenity.
5. Develop the reserve as a learning environment, offering a range of educational opportunities tailored to different ages, interests and needs.
These are underpinned by our key Operational Objectives to:
6. Generate a sustainable level of funding and the other resources necessary to ensure the reserve can flourish and achieve its strategic objectives.
7. Promote awareness of the reserve through regular engaging and reliable communication.
8. Ensure the organisation is effective and fit for purpose through sound governance and management.
Further information on each of these objectives, and how we plan to achieve them, is provided in our Strategic Plan.