Managing nature reserves

Brown argus butterfly at Waterford Heath Nature ReserveBrown argus, Waterford Heath Nature Reserve

We manage more than 40 nature reserves across Hertfordshire and Middlesex, with the help of dedicated volunteers. We look after some of the best spots in South East England for certain wildlife.

Why do nature reserves need to be managed?

Every day our Reserves Officers are out on the reserves managing habitats. We do this to encourage the greatest diversity of species, both plants and animals. This diversity is fundamental to the survival of our native wildlife.

If we left our woodlands unmanaged we would soon lose the diversity of species that a mixture of woodland habitats supports. For example, creating clearings by removing some trees lets more light into the wood. This allows wildflowers and other plants to emerge. These support insects, which then provide food for animals further up the food chain, like birds and small mammals. 

Similarly if we left our grasslands to their own devices they would eventually become woodland! Our grazing programme and regular cutting and raking ensures we are protecting special grassland wildlife. And restoring wetland features like reedbeds, most of which have been lost over time, provides nesting places and shelter for wetland birds.

We're making a difference

Nature is incredibly resilient. With a little help from us, it can bounce back. Here are some success stories from our reserves:

Aldbury Nowers awash with butterflies
Dark green fritillary butterfly at Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve

Record numbers of butterflies were recorded at Aldbury Nowers Nature Reserve near Tring in the summer of 2013, including a new record for the locally scarce dark green fritillary.

The Trust has carried out extensive restoration work at the site to encourage the plants that butterflies like. Dark green fritillaries for example favour almost exclusively the common dog-violet and hairy violet to lay their eggs on. Read more

Emerald damselfly tops the lot at Amwell

Emerald dragonfly - Amwell Nature Reserve attract this locally scarce beautyA former quarry, Amwell Nature Reserve has blossomed into a haven for wildlife and one of the Trust's flagship sites. As well as being internationally important for its bird numbers, the reserve is also one of the best places in Hertfordshire for dragonflies - 19 different species have been recorded. In August 2013 the emerald damselfly was spotted, a scarce visitor but one which has been seen over the last two years, suggesting a small population of this local rarity has become established.

How you can help

  • Volunteer - there is plenty to do on our nature reserves, especially over the winter months. Check out our volunteering opportunities page.
  • Get your business involved! Local companies help us by sponsoring work at nature reserves near them or getting stuck in at work parties.
  • Join us - with your support as a member we can carry on protecting these special places day in, day out.