Saltwells of UK in Dudley has been officially recognised as a National Nature Reserve by Natural England. The already highly-acclaimed Saltwells Local Nature Reserve has been officially elevated to National status after Natural England recognised its unique geology under its new National Nature Reserve strategy.
The borough is already home to the country’s first ever geological National Nature Reserve, Wren’s Nest which was declared in 1956.
With Saltwells now recognised as a national gem, and the first geological site to be selected under Natural England’s new strategy, it makes Dudley a rarity as an urban area with two National Nature Reserves.
The reserve’s important geological features date back over 420 million years. They give visitors a glimpse into the world during the Silurian Period when Dudley lay under a warm tropical sea, through to the Carboniferous Period when the coal seams which fuelled the Industrial Revolution in Dudley were forming in vast swamps. In places visitors can also see hard igneous rock which formed when hot molten magma forced its way through these older layers.
More recently the rocks here have been exploited for industrial purposes with coal, clay, fire clay and ironstone being quarried and used by the industries that helped define the Black Country. Salty waters were also found here and during the 1880s attempts were made to use the area as a health spa until later mining activity polluted the water and prevented further use.
Today, the clay pits, collapsed mines, pools, cuttings, rail and canal sides reveal not only the site’s geology but also its industrial and mining heritage.
England has 223 National Nature Reserves. The recognition of Saltwells puts it alongside such famous landscapes at the Lizard in Cornwall and Lindisfarne in Northumberland.
Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for environmental services at Dudley Council said: “We’ve been working closely with Natural England for some time, and to have Saltwells recognised like this is testament to the strong working relationship we have built between our organisations.
“I am so proud of what we have on our doorstep and this is testament to all the hard work of everyone involved on a daily basis, including our hugely committed volunteers and supportive friends group.
“I am delighted that Saltwells is the first nature reserve to be recognised for its geology under the new Natural England National Nature Reserves Strategy.”
Adnan Saif, regional director at Canal & River Trust, said: “This is wonderful news for Saltwells Nature Reserve and the Dudley Canal that runs alongside it. The nature reserve along with our canals provide a vital green and blue space for local people in communities that often need them the most.
“Our research shows that spending time in nature next to water is good for your health and wellbeing so I would encourage everyone to come and visit and spend some time being outdoors.”
Originally published by ExpressandStar