Bay Road Park Local Nature Reserve, Derry, Northern Ireland
2009 – 2019
What problem did it address?
Bay Road Park Local Nature Reserve is a 20ha former landfill site, which was closed in the 1970s, capped with soil and landscaped. However, when the Foyle Bridge was constructed over the site a decade later, it became a hotspot for anti-social behavior.
How did it do it?
Derry City & Strabane District Council took a long term approach to transforming this greenspace. Some of the actions they took include:
- Conducted user surveys to establish the number and type of visitors, and to identify the barriers to using this site.
- Designated the site as a Local Nature Reserve in 2009, to create a high quality greenspace for people and wildlife.
- Established the Bay Road Park Steering Group, to increase community ownership.
- Installed brown directional signage, interpretation panels at the entrances showing the entrances and walking routes to encourage increased visitor usage.
- Installed a telescope and a bird interpretation panel to encourage people to engage with the natural environment.
- Conducted habitat and species surveys and created management plans.
- Developed educational programmes linked to the curriculum to encourage local schools to utilise the site as an outdoor classroom.
- Improved the design of the site to cater for the recreational needs of people of all ages and abilities. It provides informal opportunities for play and recreation, with seats and different lengths of walks, to encourage relaxation, connection and exercise in the natural environment.
- Conducted bat surveys and installed the first permanent bat monitoring station in Northern Ireland.
- Hosts an annual events programme to encourage visitor usage and increase volunteering.
- Created 3.5 ha of species rich grassland as part of a plan to increase food and habitats for pollinators.
Who has benefitted and how?
This is now a multifunctional greenspace that provides a range of functions for both people and wildlife. It provides the opportunity for informal play and recreation for local residents with a greenway and mixed grassland areas. For wildlife, bat roosts have been installed for six of the eight bat species in Northern Ireland and 11 ha of woodland provides a habitat for wildlife, traps air pollution, and stores water and carbon.
It also provides schoolchildren with outdoor learning opportunities; and has provided the opportunity for the formation of a local group promoting a sense of community.
What was the cost and how was it developed?
It cost £550,000 to upgrade the existing path network and connect this greenspace into the wider 100km greenway network within the District. This includes other long-term infrastructure and habitat improvements.
Evidence of success
The visitor numbers have increased by over 300%. These long term interventions have transformed what used to be an anti-social behavior hotspot into a Local Nature Reserve with 200,000 visitors / annum, into a vibrant flagship greenspace.
The site has a Natural Capital value of £3.2 million/annum.
Derry was awarded the Britain in Bloom Small City 2019 Award, partly for its management of this greenspace.
It was a challenge managing public expectations of how the Local Nature Reserve should be used to provide multiple benefits. For example, it is not always possible to combine public use of an area which also has significant wildlife value.
Dr. Christine Doherty
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