A WILDLIFE reserve is spreading its wings after taking on an area of former industrial land to graze livestock.
RSPB Saltholme is taking over the management of six hectares of land opposite its main reserve near Billingham.
The conservation charity has received the land from Sembcorp Utilities UK, an industrial energy company based at the Wilton International site on Teesside.
And Saltholme has been given funding from environmental body the SITA Trust to fence off the area ready for arrival of new livestock.
Emma Birnie, RSPB Saltholme’s estate manager, said: “This piece of land is like the final piece in a jigsaw.
“The new area buffers some land we already own, which is a designated Special Protected Area (SPA).
“This grassland means there is now enough pasture for us to graze cattle, which is essential to ensure the best management of the site.”
A long-term lease for the land, which complements a similar lease on adjacent Sembcorp-owned land, runs until the year 2106.
Saltholme says it will allow the whole of the area to be better managed and be a haven for numerous species of birds.
Emma added: “As the area is an SPA, the window of opportunity for doing work on the land is small.
“However what we have planned will make this site a haven for breeding birds like lapwing and water rail, pochard and the iconic great crested grebe.”
Dr Douglas Annan, senior vice president and site director of Sembcorp Utilities UK, said: “We were delighted to lease the land for such an environmentally important purpose.”
The reserve will be getting into the festive spirit next weekend in its Wild Christmas and Scandinavian Express events.
Both take place from 10am-3pm on Saturday, November 29, and Sunday, November 30.
They include storytelling, interactive trails and crafts in the classroom.
Prices are still to be confirmed. Call (01642) 546625.