18 June 2010
Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve in Bangor, designed and project managed through construction by international consultants WYG Ireland, has been highly commended in the prestigious Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) Living Wetland Awards.
The wetland, managed by the Ulster Wildlife Trust in partnership with North Down Borough Council was established in 2008 from an area of derelict wet grassland. Although still very much in its infancy, it has become a haven for local wildlife and people.
A team of environmental, engineering, and health & safety consultants from WYG joined forces with North Down Borough Council and the Ulster Wildlife Trust to develop the new community wetland park.
Eleanor Ballard, Principal Ecologist, WYG Ireland said, “Our role was to create a design that would facilitate delivery of a variety of educational programmes and also enhance local biodiversity by providing an important habitat for wildlife.”
WYG’s groundwater specialists carried out a preliminary hydrogeological and hydrological investigation to establish the feasibility of creating a series of interconnected ponds and islands. The design was developed by WYG’s civil engineers who also provided procurement and construction supervision services, with support from our ecology team who offered expertise to increase the design’s ecological benefits. WYG’s health & safety consultants were also on hand to provide CDM coordinator services.
The finished design incorporates two large ponds, fitted with pond dipping platforms, central islands and a shallow wetland scrape pond to maximise the habitats available to resident and migratory species. These are now home to a variety of water loving creatures. A bird hide was erected in a secluded corner of the site for bird watching and it is hoped that the project will encourage experienced birders to the site and introduce new people to the joys of bird watching. The nature reserve also has accessible paths, information panels and picnic areas.
Eleanor commented,“We are extremely pleased with the results which have transformed the area of unused, species poor wet grassland and patchy willow scrub into a community resource with picnic areas and walkways that are buzzing with insect and birdlife.”
The award, announced at the recent CIWEM Annual Dinner in London, recognises multi-functional projects that demonstrate sustainable use of wetland habitats.
Ross Towers, Nature Reserves Manager with the Ulster Wildlife Trust said: “We are delighted that Balloo Wetland has been highly commended by the judges of CIWEM Living Wetlands Award. This award publically demonstrates the success of our partnership with North Down Borough Council and WYG, which proves that a relatively small area of land can be turned into a haven for wildlife and people alike.”
Mayor of North Down, Councillor John Montgomery is also thrilled with the award and commented: “Balloo Wetland has proved very popular with residents in North Down since it officially opened last year. In its current state it is very much evolving and there is something new and different to see on every visit. We are very pleased that the site has been commended by the CIWEM judges - I am sure this is just the first of many such awards the site will attract over the coming years.”
Judges Matt Johns and Rob McInnes stated that the nature reserve received it’s commendation due to its ability to enhance wildlife and receive interest from a large group of people.
The nature reserve has received strong support from members of the local community with both the Rathgill and Bloomfield Residents Associations being involved in every stage of the process. Local residents have also been attending monthly volunteer days held at the site, where tasks have included everything from biological recording to tree planting and grass cutting.
If you would like to help out at Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve, the next volunteer day will be held on Friday 2nd July, and the first Friday of every month there on. For more information please contact the Ulster Wildlife Trust on 028 4483 0282.
For further information on WYG’s services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org