A WILDLIFE haven in the centre of Ellesmere has been declared a local nature reserve.

The pond at Birch Road Recreation Area has received formal recognition from Natural England as a valuable site for nature conservation.

The site contains areas of open water with marginal vegetation, and is home to a variety of species of plants, amphibians and invertebrates.

Mayor of Ellesmere, Councillor Paul Goulbourne, believes declaring the space as a nature reserve may raise its profile.

He said “The Birch Road Pond has been an under-appreciated community resource and, by declaring it as a local nature reserve, the council believes that it can gain a higher profile.

“Not only does it support and protect habitats and species, but it provides an opportunity for residents to get close to nature and appreciate the contribution it makes to their quality of life.

“The council will work in partnership with the Wildlife Trust to develop the facilities at the reserve for the benefit of the public and school groups.”

The site is owned by Ellesmere Town Council, and has been managed as a wildlife site by Shropshire Wildlife Trust since 2006.

The Ellesmere branch of the trust has carried out a lot of work to clear the pond and install an access route around the site.

The proximity of the site to the town makes it an ideal place for people to experience wildlife.

Colin Preston, chief executive officer of Shropshire Wildlife Trust said: “Local nature reserves have never been more important.

“At a time when people are locked down they need every opportunity to enjoy the restorative value of nature.

“A tranquil place like Birch Road Pond gives the chance for wildlife to flourish in the heart of Ellesmere and for the whole town to benefit.”

Once the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased or lifted, it is hoped a community event will be held to mark the establishment of Ellesmere Local Nature Reserve.