Visiting Railway Wildlife Project in Bootham
Today I met with Chris Huxley, Project Manager from ADAS environmental consultants, Phil Verster, Route Managing Director at Network Rail and Emma Walker, a local resident, to learn about Bootham Project 2025 – a pioneering initiative to improve the environment and protect wildlife on railway land in Bootham, York.
In the 1990s, Bootham’s tree population was becoming old and residents were concerned because some of the trees were unsafe. Overgrown trackside vegetation was out of control, and caused safety and operational problems to trains. To deal with the problem, Railtrack asked independent environmental consultants, ADAS, to come up with a long term solution for managing the site and the Bootham Project 2025 was founded. It is a long term strategy to reduce the problems caused to train operations and to provide local residents with an improved and more secure environment. The Project Community Liaison Group represents a number of interested parties including ADAS, Network Rail, City of York Council, Bootham and Clifton Conservation Group and Grosvenor Terrace Residents Association.
In recent years surgery works have been completed on many of the trees in the area. In some areas trees have been thinned to remove weaker specimens to allow space for the stronger trees and shrubs to develop. As a consequence of this work, the bird population in the area is increasing and 2011 saw the hatching and rearing of Tawny owls in a box erected as part of the project. The project has made train services on the York to Scarborough line safer and more reliable.
Bootham Project 2025 is a real success story. It shows what can be achieved when residents work together with railway companies. This project has seen a big increase in the number of birds and wildlife in the area and the residents are enjoying caring for these. The railway is also a safer place thanks to the high level of maintenance so it is a win-win situation all round.