Bereaved father donates huge nature reserve to Leicestershire in memory of son

A Leicestershire father whose 42-year-old son died suddenly last year has donated 50 acres of pasture land to the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. The site, just outside Market Harborough, will become a nature reserve.

Michael Adler's son, James, passed away in May last year. The land, which Michael enjoyed exploring when he was younger, was to be left to him in Michael's will. Instead, the wildlife trust has announced it will be taking over ownership of Michael's land, and it will become "a beautiful legacy to his son".

The trust will aim to maximise the number of species of plants and animals on the land, which will be known as The James Adler Reserve, to boost biodiversity in the area and create a new nature reserve for local people. Michael said: “I had always intended to leave this land to James, but he died unexpectedly in May last year. Emotionally, I was extremely attached to the land.

READ MORE: Gap between village and town 'only 250 yards due to homes decision'

"For much of my early childhood I had lived with my grandparents in Great Bowden and had the free run over acres of land. In summer I loved getting up early and going with the family’s Shetland collie to pick mushrooms and enjoy the quietness of my surroundings, punctuated only by the dawn chorus of many birds.

"James joined me on visits to the land on several occasions and was the obvious person to take over. With him gone it was clear that the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust should be approached to accept the land as a gift.”

James died not long after becoming the chief executive officer of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Michael said: "He loved his job and looked after a large area with a variety of habitats, including heathland.

"From his pre-school days James was fascinated by nature. He would have loved to have been responsible for the land at Great Bowden, and it is most appropriate that the new reserve is to be named after him.” Part of the 50 acres will be turned into a wetland area to encourage amphibians and dragonflies, among other things, while new trees will also be planted.

Joe Davis, head of nature reserves at the trust, said: “The land has exciting possibilities for both wildlife and people. We hope to plant woodland to improve biodiversity and capture carbon where the upper parts of the reserve offer greatest potential for woodland expansion. Initially we will be studying the land to see what the best options are and to make plans for the land’s future.”

The land is in two parts on either side of the A6 near Great Bowden. Anyone wishing to help develop the future of the James Adler Reserve is encouraged to get in touch with the trust by emailing