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RSPB given exciting new role in Budby South Forest

Last modified: 25 August 2016

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Image: The RSPB

The RSPB, the UK’s largest conservation charity, will now take on an important new role in the management of Budby South Forest from 1 August.

Natural England, who until now had been overseeing the management of the site in partnership with the RSPB and Thoresby Estate, has now transferred full management responsibilities to the RSPB, entrusting it to continue to care for the site’s precious wildlife and ensure people remain physically and emotionally inspired by the heathland.

The heathland is a unique home for nature, and forms half of the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (NNR). The open habitat is home to protected and sensitive birds such as nightjars, yellowhammers and woodlarks. Bare sandy soil provides egg-laying habitat for bees, wasps and black oil beetles, and acts as basking and feeding areas for common lizards. Sherwood’s last remaining herd of wild red deer is occasionally glimpsed on the open heath.

Budby South Forest is one of the few areas of Open Access Land in Nottinghamshire. By continuing the management of this exceptional site, the RSPB will be able to ensure good levels of access to the heathland for the public whilst also providing a secure home for nature. The RSPB is also leading a consortium of partners who will take on the conservation management of Sherwood Forest Country Park in 2018.

Michael Copleston, RSPB Area Reserves Manager, said: “This is a proud moment for the RSPB. Together with the many organisations, groups and individuals who have and will be passionately conserving Budby South Forest, we are committed to a bright, long-term future for this very special heathland, its wildlife and visitors.

“The RSPB is delighted to be working closely with the landowner and Natural England to enhance these habitats for nature and connections for people, and the declaration of our NNR management responsibilities further cements our ability to make a great contribution to protecting and celebrating this significant jewel in the Sherwood landscape.”

Rob Menzies, Natural England East Midlands Area Manager, said: “It is with great pleasure that we can formally announce the transfer of this part of Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve to the RSPB. This site truly is one of the most iconic nature reserves in England, a part of our natural heritage embedded into the national consciousness, and we look forward to seeing its management progress for the benefit of wildlife and for future generations under the care and expertise of the RSPB.”


1. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, originally declared in 2002, was extended in 2007 in part to be managed as a nature reserve under the terms of a Nature Reserve Agreement with Natural England, as defined under section 16 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The management of that extended part of the reserve has now been transferred from Natural England to the RSPB, a body approved by Natural England for the management of the National Nature Reserve (NNR). 
Such a change in management organisation requires a de-declaration of that part of the NNR previously managed under section 16 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and a re-declaration of the reserve under Section 35(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which allows for the management of the reserve by the RSPB as an ‘Approved Body’.
3. Budby South Forest is the largest remaining area of dry lowland heath in the county and is one of the most important heathland sites in the East Midlands.  Not only is it a particularly important habitat for sensitive ground-nesting birds, such as the nightjar and woodlark but historically it is one of the last remaining tracts of the original Sherwood Forest, which once covered thousands of hectares of Nottinghamshire. The grasslands of the heath are particularly important for ants and spiders and are favoured feeding areas for green woodpeckers. Budby supports a wide range of characteristic heathland wildlife and is important for its populations of plants, reptiles, amphibians, bats, beetles, bees, moths and grasshoppers.
The assemblage of breeding birds associated with the heath is particularly special, including specially protected birds such as the woodlark and birds included on the Red List such as nightjar, yellowhammer, skylark and linnet. Nightjar and woodlark are both included as priority species within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and are undoubtedly the main attractions on the heath during the summer. The woodlark is commonly seen singing high over the heaths during the day, whilst the ‘churring’ song of the more secretive nightjar can often be heard across the forest at dusk.