Wetland returns to Bradford Estates-owned fields as part of nature restoration project

Fields owned by Bradford Estates are being restored to wetland under a nature partnership project launched on their land holding on the Shropshire and Staffordshire borders. 

The landed estates business is transforming an area near Brineton as part of a scheme delivered with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, drawing upon funding from the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Improvement Fund. 

On three hectares most recently used for livestock grazing, Bradford Estates are deploying the funds to create wildlife-friendly “scrapes”, shallow depressions with gently sloping edges which will temporarily collect rainwater, with the aim of attracting wetland wildlife to the area. 

The project also includes the felling of trees across the stream which runs through the land to enhance the wetland at peak rainfall times. As well as seeing plants such as sedges and rushes restored to the area, it is hoped insects and wading birds like snipe will return. 

The partners have shaped the transformation to slow and stop sediment being carried from farmland to the nearby Aqualate Mere National Nature Reserve, reducing the decline of the natural lake. The surrounding fencing is being replaced to support conservation grazing of the newly improved wetland with the Bradford Estates specialist flock.  

Farms Director Oliver Scott said Bradford Estates had decided to restore the wetland as part of its 100 year plan to shape its future around responsible practices. He said: “Rather than the land being intensively grazed and resulting in the loss of its wetland plants, we are reinstating the conditions for this habitat to recover and at the same time stop silt being washed towards Aqualate Mere.  

“We are happy for this area to be used as wetland as an example to other landowners and farmers to follow. We are doing our bit upstream of the Aqualate Mere as part of our long term plans to preserve the environment around Bradford Estates and are thrilled to be partnering with like-minded partners to make this happen.” 

Shropshire Wildlife Trust is working with Bradford Estates as part of its wider vision for a thriving natural local environment in the county. Pete Lambert, Head of Land and Water, for Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are redesigning parts of the landscape to bring benefits to the local environment. It is great to work with a sympathetic landowner to conserve wet grasslands and use the site to help protect more sensitive locations downstream. 

“The wetter this land remains the better for the biodiversity and the environment. With all the competing pressures on landowners, it is great to work with a forward-thinking landed estates business like Bradford Estates in order to meet the long term needs of the local area.” 

Alexander Pearson, a third year BSc Environmental Land Management student at Harper Adams University, near Newport, has worked on the project as part of his placement year with Bradford Estates. He said: “I have been pleased to be part of this project since the early meetings as it puts some of the learning from my course into practice. It has been interesting to see how the project has progressed as water quality is going to be so important in years to come.” 

Landed estates business Bradford Estates is responsible for managing 12,000 acres on the Shropshire and Staffordshire borders. Working to its 100-year plan, Bradford Estates’ stewardship is centred around delivering a legacy for generations to come by using sustainable practices across its activities.