Bradgate Park gains National Nature Reserve status to protect rare fossils

Bradgate Park has been voted as the top beauty spot of Leicester - by the residents
Bradgate Park is the only place to find the rare fossils in England -Credit:NTI - News Team International

Leicestershire’s Bradgate Park, which inspired a young Sir David Attenborough and his love of all things nature, has been named a new National Nature Reserve. The beloved beauty spot, near Newtown Linford, was granted the coveted status as part of ongoing celebrations to mark King Charles III’s coronation.

The site, which spans 439 hectares, is home to rare fossils of early marine life forms from the Precambrian Period more than half a billion years ago. The fossils, known as the Ediacaran biota, can only be found in Bradgate Park. Their discovery helped revolutionise people’s understanding of how life evolved on Earth.

Alongside its rich history spanning the ages, Bradgate Park is also known for its wildlife, including deer. important grassland habitats and some of the only remaining heath in the area. The park also includes the remains of the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey.

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Bradgate Park’s new National Nature Reserve status also extends to the nearby Swithland Wood reserve, which includes the former Swithland Slate quarries. The site is home to the rare ‘Charnwood spider’ as well as other important wildlife including Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

James Dymond, director of Bradgate Park Trust, which manages the sites, said: “This is a landmark moment for Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood. They are home to some of the oldest fossils and rocks in England and to have the site’s conservation value recognised in this way is a fantastic achievement.”

The National Nature Reserve status was announced by Natural England today. The site is one of those chosen for the King’s Series of National Nature Reserves project. The initiative aims to leave a lasting public legacy for people and nature by creating a series of reserves to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III. Five new National Nature Reserves will be announced every year until 2027.

Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, said: “This National Nature reserve at Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood is not only an important step for Nature recovery, but being so close to Leicester is also a great example how we can make Nature accessible for people living in our cities.

“The reserve will protect geological and archaeological treasures and create a bigger and better-connected area for wildlife. It also presents a reminder of how working together in partnership can drive nature recovery at scale, in the process helping to achieve our ambitious national environmental targets. National Nature Reserve status will help to protect this site for the future.”