Region: South East
Canvey Island may not be the first place to spring to mind when thinking of rare wildlife, but a brownfield site on the island has been found to be one of the best places in Britain for endangered invertebrates. That place is Canvey Wick.
Described as “a little brownfield rainforest” by Natural England officer Dr Chris Gibson, the results of surveys have shown Canvey Wick to have “more biodiversity per square foot than any other site in the UK”. This nature reserve was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on 11 February 2005 – the first brownfield site to be protected specifically for its invertebrates.
Northwick Road, Canvey Island, Essex, SS8 0LD
Site size: 13 (+130) hectares
Reserve open at all times; car park gates open from 9.00am until 5.00pm
Height restriction of 2.1m
Facilities available at Wat Tyler Country Park or Morrisons Supermarket, Northwick Road
(click here to find the nearest public toilets)
Pushchair friendly, All trail paths at 50% hard standing and 50% grass; these can be wet and muddy under foot during winter months. Paths at their narrowest point at 1.5m wide; There is no seating.
Registered dogs are welcome on a short lead.
Bee trail and orchid trail
Wat Tyler Country Park
The site was originally grazing marsh and was then partially developed in the 1960s as an oil refinery when the marsh was filled with two to three metres of river dredging. This material is varied in size resulting in silty, sandy and gravely areas rich in shell fragments. Whilst roads and other infrastructure were built, the refinery was never brought into operation.
All of this has left an area which is very varied in structure with wet reedy areas, marshy floods, ditches, ponds, sallow carr, bramble patches, sparsely vegetated gravels, sandy banks, dry grassland, wet grassland and bare concrete. This has meant that the abandoned site has over the last 40 years evolved into an ecologically rich site with one of the most rich and rarity-dominated populations of insects in the UK.
Thanks to funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the transfer of land to the Land Trust, the long term future of this special space was secured. The Land Trust’s endowment from the HCA means that the unique wildlife that inhabits the nature reserve will be protected for future generations.
In September 2016, Morrisons transferred to the Land Trust some 130 hectares of adjoining land. There is currently no formal public access to the additional land, although we’re working with managing partners RSPB and Buglife to ensure local communities can safely enjoy the expanded site whilst protecting the wildlife.
To contact the Land Trust about this site or how we could help manage your space please email our Estates Manager Simon Pile or call 07747 455980
This site has received the following awards:
Canvey Wick Nature Reserve was shortlisted in the Nature Reserve of the Year category at the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards. The nomination was made by Brett Westwood, naturalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter.
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