The Island is an 800m stretch of land nestled between the Calder and Hebble Navigation and River Calder at Mirfield, Kirklees. It is a haven for wildlife such as kingfishers and herons, but these and other species can easily go unnoticed by visitors.
The area’s potential as a wildlife hotspot caught the eye of Callum Wrest, a former participant in Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders (TNLs) scheme. Callum spent last year being trained and mentored by staff from the local wildlife charity to help kick-start his career in conservation.
Putting his learning into practice, Callum chose Battyeford Island as the focus for his project in partnership with the Canal & River Trust. Callum worked with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s latest cohort of TNLs and a further group of local young people he recruited for the task as he sought to inspire them and help each interact with nature.
As an otherwise undeveloped public space, the plan for the day was to build a variety of structures designed to engage the community with the natural environment. This included a bug hotel, bird feeders, a picnic area, and information signs. For the new TNLs it was a fabulous chance not only to showcase their physical strengths and stamina but also to ask Callum questions about the TNL scheme and what their upcoming year would have in store.
Current TNL Charlie Coghlan said: “Callum was so inspiring and competent, the day brought it home to me about how I can develop over the next 12 months as a TNL. I can’t wait to get stuck in!”
A bug hotel is a man-made structure created to provide shelter for insects. It’s filled with insect-friendly habitats such as hollow bamboo, pine cones and straw. These spaces give bugs cosy places to hide over winter, such as solitary bees which can hibernate in the hollow bamboo tubes. It also brings them above the ground so people can view the interesting creepy-crawlies in the area.
The group of young volunteers also used existing tree stumps as a base for a picnic table and benches to create a pleasant stop-off point for visitors of the human kind.
Fellow TNL Emma Stroud said: “As soon as we had put the finishing touches to the hotel the first guests began checking in! We saw snails, woodlice, centipedes and many spiders. It was so great to be part of a team and see the final product literally come to life!”
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Tomorrow’s Natural Leaders is one of 31 projects run nationwide as part of ‘Our Bright Future’, a £33 million pound initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund that supports young people across the UK to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment.
To find out more about Tomorrow's Natural Leaders please click here or call the Trust on 01904 659570.
Feature written by TNLs Emma Stroud, Hannah Ward, Isobelle Marciniak and Charlie Coghlan.