Bid launched to create community nature reserve in West Yorkshire

Bridestones Rewilded wants to buy and restore moorland above Todmorden, for the benefit of wildlife, the environment and local people

Conservationists in West Yorkshire are working together in a bid by the much-loved Bridestones Moor, creating the first community-owned nature reserve in Calderdale.

The 114-acre moor, on the hillside above Todmorden, has been listed for sale, with suggestions it could be restored for nature. A community interest company, Bridestones Rewilded, has been formed, and has launched a crowdfunder to acquire the site and restore it for the benefit of wildlife and local people.

Renowned for its distinctive stones, which local folklore suggests resemble a bride and groom, the moor is home to endangered bird species including curlew, lapwing, red grouse and golden plover, along with four species of owl and the occasional red kite, hen harrier and peregrine falcon.

It is also hoped the project will help the fight against climate change, by improving carbon storage in the land, and – with rainfall projected to increase – slowing the flow of water in the flood-prone valley. Sphagnum mosses and cotton grass grow there, essential for the healthy functioning of the peat bog, and for locking in carbon. 

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But the habitat has been seriously degraded by centuries of hard grazing, threatening the plants on which the ecosystem depends for its existence, and Bridestones Rewilded pledges to reverse this decline. 

Support is already coming in, with more than 350 people contributing upwards of £37,000 to support the project.

Comprising naturalists, ecologists and local community members, Bridestones Rewilded is spearheaded by Anthony Arak, who said: “We are appealing to everyone who appreciated wildlife and supports our aims of holding Bridestones Moor for the local community to make a donation to the new crowdfuncing campaign.”

The group’s vision is to preserve it as a community-owned nature reserve, accessible to all. Central to their ambitions is the revitalisation of carbon-rich peatlands, and vibrant grasslands and heath, creating a space for responsible outdoor recreation, education and connection with nature.

“The overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve already received shows Bridestones Moor is cherished by many people,“ added Arak. “It is a place where people enjoy access to the outdoors and where nature can flourish.

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“There is a growing recognition that moorlands like Bridestones are not only important for the diverse habitats they provide, but also their crucial role in absorbing carbon and protecting our communities from flood risk.”

The total cost of the project, delivered over five years is £775,000. The biggest upfront cost is the purchase of the land, stamp duty and legal fees which amounts to £357,000. The society is looking for supporters to raise £55,000 towards the purchase the land, to secure the site quickly. The rest of the funds will be raised from charities and philanthropic donors, who have offered to match crowdfunded pledges, it adds.

The minimum donation on Crowdfunder is £1 and there is no maximum.

More details at