23 September 2015
New Ferry Butterfly park, in the Wirral, has twice the reasons to celebrate, achieving the community Green Flag Award and celebrating the park's 20th birthday.
New Ferry Butterfly park is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust reserve and an oasis of green tranquillity in a densely populated urban area. Originally abandoned railway sidings, its industrial past has been put to good use as a home for wildlife.
On the thin, nutrient-poor soils which overlie old railway track beds, there are now carpets of wild flowers, including bird's foot trefoil and wild carrot. The lime waste from a water softening plant has been used to create calcareous grassland with hosts of yellow cowslip in spring and purple marsh orchids in summer. Up to 26 species of butterfly have been recorded here, with 18 or 19 species breeding on site depending on the season.
The site's community Green Flag Award recognises and highlights that people in New Ferry are benefitting from a green space of the very highest quality. Last year's Green Flag Award judge's report was used in support of a successful grant application to gain an eco-loo for the park, to cater for the park's 2,500 visitors who come each season.
The Park's honorary secretary Paul Loughnane said, "We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the second time from Keep Britain Tidy and that we were one of only 25 sites in the county nominated for a pollinator award, which shows our habitat management for butterflies has also benefited an increase in bee populations here."
Malcolm Plant, Chair of the Cheshire and Peak Branch of Butterfly Conservation said, "We recently held a butterfly identification workshop at the park and were delighted that we had selected the park with the large number of the butterfly species resident in Cheshire and the Wirral seen. This is definitely a regional hot spot for butterflies and a superb example of how a piece of land can be effectively managed for the benefit of our wildlife."
The Green Flag judge who awarded the park an overall score within the top banding, said. "This is an exceptional site that deserves the Green Flag. The Wildlife Trust have transformed what was once a discarded industrial railway siding and station into an extraordinary biodiversity site catering for not only butterflies but a wide selection of other insects and small mammals. The Trust has realised the value of the different soil composition, which industry has left, to develop plant species which would not natural be in that location. This in turns increases the diversity of invertebrates and other animals in the site. The enthusiasm and the knowledge of the volunteers are excellent and they just want to share it with the visitors."
The park celebrated their achievements with a flag raising by Lord Lyndon Harrison who 20 years ago declared the Park to the public. This was followed by a celebratory BBQ for those involved in the park now and during the past 20 years.