Local Wildlife Sites


High Wood in Northamptonshire - Robert Enderby

Wildlife Sites in Northamptonshire are known as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS). Northamptonshire has approximately 734 of them forming a network of natural sites across the county, but covering just 5% of the county.

Habitats & Locations

  • Woodlands; such as the ancient woodlands across the Rockingham Forest and Yardley - Whittlewood Ridge
  • Grasslands; including species rich meadows found particularly in west of the County and along river valleys, acid grasslands around Daventry and calcareous grassland in northeast Northants
  • Gravel pits and wetlands; many in the Nene Valley but also along other river valleys and reservoirs
  • Quarries and gullets; associated with old ironstone works in north Northants and now providing a range of wildlife habitats
  • Roadside verges & green lanes; which are both important habitats and wildlife corridors.

What we are doing in Northamptonshire

The Wildlife Trust records all the Local Wildlife Sites and aims to survey each one every five to 10 years to find out about wildlife is using the site. We also help landowners to look after their LWS.

We offer free advice on the most wildlife friendly options for a site's management and information on the species to be found, as well as help and information on sources of funding for conservation-friendly management.

If you own a LWS or think you have one that qualifies please contact us.


Northamptonshire’s most threatened habitat, the wildflower meadow, was the target for the Wildlife Trust’s Inspiring Meadows project, funded by SITA. The project, which ended in March, worked with landowners to restore meadows across Northamptonshire, and  offered free wildlife surveys and management advice, as well as funding for practical work, such as fencing, to restore meadow habitats and help long-term management.

Case Studies: Rushton Grange Meadow is a species rich wet meadow that was declining due to under-management. The site was restored through the Inspiring Meadows project; a management plan has been produced, the site fenced, water provided and the meadow will now be managed through a hay cut and cattle grazing with the help of a local grazier. This will ensure the conservation of the meadow and the wildlife that depend on it for many years to come. For more information see the survey report and management plan.

Northfield Lodge Farm: the project paid for fencing to split the site in half and allow more controlled grazing, the bottom field is now being restored to a meadow using seed harvested from a nearby meadow.

Elderstubbs Farm Pasture: fencing along the watercourse has allowed restoration grazing of the whole of this flower-rich meadow. The landowner is now managing the site for its wildlife with a good range of wildflowers, butterflies and other insects recorded as well a barn owls.

The Wildlife Sites system

In Northamptonshire the Wildlife Sites system is managed by the Wildlife Trust on behalf of the Wildlife Sites Partnership, which includes local authorities, statutory conservation agencies, local naturalists and landowners.

The partnership oversees, coordinates and develops the system for identifiying and conserving sites in Northamptonshire, as well as selecting and de-selecting LWS. All LWS are chosen based on their conservation value, and are assessed against a publicly available county-based set of criteria. The aim is to select a comprehensive (rather than representative) set of locally important sites for wildlife. Sites qualify if they provide good example of a habitat or support populations of indicators species above a certain threshold. For example grasslands or meadows supporting populations of eight or more neutral grassland indicator species.

Read the Northamptonshire Wildlife Site selection criteria

Read the Northamptonshire Wildlife Sites leaflet

Read the Northamptonshire Wildlife Sites 2016 newsletter

Case Studies

  • Ironstone Gullets: LWS surveys of six former ironstone quarries found the sites had developed an interesting range of habitats including species rich calcareous grassland, which supports a wealth of wildflowers alongside scarce and specialist insects. The Wildlife Trust is now working with landowners to protect and manage these sites into the future, through scrub clearance and low intensity grazing.
  • Sandy Spinney Quarry; the old quarry contains areas of wildflower rich calcareous grassland including an impressive display of orchids and 13 nationally scarce insects. The best grassland was in danger of being lost to scrub. Working with the landowner and Natural England the site is entering into HLS scheme, meaning the site will be restored, through scrub clearance and grazing and long-term conservation secured alongside other areas of wildlife interest across the landholding.