Alan from Humber Nature Partnership explains the work they are doing

NATURE and industry are living side-by-side on the banks of the Humber estuary where their co-habitation is proof there is room for both.

Perhaps seen as reluctant neighbours, the success of the estuary as one of Britain’s foremost commercial ports has not seen the disappearance of its natural habitat. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Humber’s shores are classed as some of the most important winter bird feeding grounds in the world, resulting in protective measures to ensure its preservation.

And, while some may frown at the acres of chimney stacks that we see lining the banks, the companies responsible for that development are far from ignorant to the needs of the local environment and their interest has seen their investment into the Humber Nature Partnership, (HNP).

Formed in 2002 with support from all four local authorities, the local Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), the regional Wildlife Trusts, the Environment Agency, Natural England and more than 30 Humber Bank companies, HNP exists to protect and enhance pockets of land on both sides of the estuary. Employed staff plan and manage a variety of projects, while encouraging volunteering as a way of helping the public to re-connect with nature.

Just yards away from the huge TOTAL Lindsey oil refinery and on the doorstep of the major new Able port development at South Killingholme sits Burkinshaw’s Covert. This 90-acre site, which is owned by TOTAL, offers an oasis of wooded tranquillity that is home to an eclectic mix of wildlife and a growing number of plant species.

Conservation Officer Alan Jones has a passion for this area’s existence and growth – with a true desire to see it flourish as a natural habitat. As he ‘brews up’ in the works’ cabin on the edge of the land, he is keen to explain the history of Burkinshaw’s Covert – a woodland that was planted in the 1700s when the land was drained, and the shooting of game was prevalent among the wealthy.

“Lincolnshire has very little woodland and actually this area is not natural and so contains many imported trees. We are slowly replacing those with more natural species in England, such as oak, ash, elm and hazel,” he explains.

A member of VANEL (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire), Alan and his team are supported by the Grimsby-based organisation is finding volunteers and engaging fellow non-profit making organisations to support the work.

“I have a background in voluntary involvement in conservation and it works. The people who come to volunteer, care about what they are doing and therefore there is a better chance of success,” said Alan.

There is always plenty to do for those volunteers – a recent project has been the creation of ponds, with money donated by Able and there is constant work to manage the habitat and prepare the tracks that wind their way through the acres of nature.

“Orchids are now growing here, and we have two breeds of deer along with all the other bird, animal and plant life. It is a wonderful place,” added Alan.

With the growing season now in full swing, more volunteers are needed. For more details email Alan: alan.jones@humbernature.co.uk