Allestree Park set to become UK's largest urban rewilding greenspace

Published: 2 November 2021

Allestree Park view taken November 2021 after closure of golf course

Rewilding Allestree Park could bring wide-ranging benefits to the city

Allestree Park, Derby’s largest green space, could be rewilded if proposals brought forward by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust are approved by Cabinet next week.

If given the green light Derby City Council will work with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and University of Derby on a rewilding project for the park. A consultation will take place with the community to develop the plans for what would be the first large-scale urban rewilding project in the UK.

Rewilding Allestree Park could bring the city wide-ranging benefits. Nature’s recovery in Derby would be supported by providing more space for wildlife-rich habitats and potential species reintroductions. It would also help the Council meet its carbon reduction targets by increasing Derby’s carbon storage capacity. Rewilding would also give Derby a “Natural Health Service” providing more opportunities for residents to improve their wellbeing by connecting with nature-rich greenspace.

Councillor Jerry Pearce, Cabinet Member for Streetpride and Public Spaces, said:

This is a fantastic proposal that will put Derby at the forefront of urban rewilding. We are in a climate emergency and it has to be taken seriously. This is one way we can help tackle climate change in Derby and decarbonise while also delivering great benefits for residents and visitors.

Dr Jo Smith, CEO of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said:

This is a big moment for Derby – an opportunity for the city to lead the way on creating vital wild spaces within urban environments - it’s more important than ever before, with the climate and nature crisis worsening.

Rewilding Allestree Park would mean starting to reconnect vital habitats for wildlife throughout the city, it would mean more carbon is stored - directly helping to reduce the climate crisis, and it would mean over 250,000 people of Derby City, and even more in surrounding areas, have a beautiful, wild and natural space to visit – which we know is crucial to people’s wellbeing. This is a huge opportunity for Derby and one we’re very proud to be a part of.

Professor Alastair Driver, Director of Rewilding Britain said:

I’ve been discussing rewilding with a few city councils and local authorities in England who own large areas of urban land, but none have taken the plunge yet. With 320 acres of woodland, grassland and lake inside the city boundary, Allestree Park is an ideal place to embark on a major urban rewilding project. We at Rewilding Britain are very excited that subject to Cabinet approval, Derby City Council are about to become bold pioneers for urban rewilding in the UK, no doubt inspiring many others to follow suit.

Rewilding is restoring ecosystems, and sometimes reintroducing species, so that they work together over time to manage habitats and whole landscapes themselves. It is nature taking care of itself. Allowing this can provide so many opportunities for communities, nature-based economies and provides important wild spaces for people to enjoy.

Subject to the proposed consultation, steps to rewild Allestree Park could include the creation of new habitats through minimal intervention such as woodlands, grasslands, wetland and scrubland, the creation of community orchards and community growing and looking at reintroducing key species, such as water vole, and harvest mouse.

If approved by Cabinet on the 10 November the next steps will be to develop the plans in detail with the local community.

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