DWT Protect Internationally Important Sunderland Grassland

Durham Wildlife Trust have acquired an internationally important habitat in the form of Herrington Hill.

In between Houghton-le-Spring and the city of Sunderland, Herrington Hill comprises 17.3acres (7 ha) of Magnesian Limestone Grassland. The area, also SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), came on the market earlier this year with a clear need for protection.

Herrington Hill SSSI

There is only 270 ha of Magnesian Limestone (Mag-lime) Grassland in the world, County Durham is home to 75% of this. Durham Wildlife Trust already owns or manages a number of Mag-lime grasslands but Herrington Hill represents an example of ‘Primary’ Mag-lime grassland.

Primary Mag-lime grassland has never been modified, improved for agriculture or quarried and is a habitat under threat from natural succession and poor management. Herrington Hill accounts for 10% of our national Primary Mag-lime grassland resource.

Secondary Mag-lime grasslands, areas which have seen development but have since been recolonised, include DWT Bishop Middleham Quarry and Trimdon Grange Quarry Nature Reserves.

Herrington Hill has been purchased by Durham Wildlife Trust with the help of a Grant from the Banister Charitable Trust and an additional anonymous donation. Whilst the purchase of the land has been covered, the Trust will begin fundraising in order to ensure future management costs can be met.

It is very unusual for a habitat such as this to become available, in part because it is so rare. Herrington Hill is a significant acquisition for Durham Wildlife Trust and becomes our 36th Nature Reserve, protected for wildlife and for people.

Species of grasses and wildflowers found on Herrington Hill include Blue Moor Grass, Quaking Grass and Crested Hair Grass as well as Common Rock Rose, Wild Thyme and Carline Thistle.

Common Rock Rose

For more information on Herrington Hill please contact the Reserves team on 0191 584 3112 or email mail@durhamwt.co.uk