Hidden in the middle of a built-up urban area, EcoPark is our secret wildlife oasis. Each year thousands of visitors are inspired by the wildlife they encounter on their visits to the site. EcoPark offers opportunities for families, schools and local residents of all ages to get hands on with nature and discover the wonders of the natural world on their doorstep.
Open for scheduled events or by appointment only, there is always something happening at EcoPark! From our Nature Tots educational sessions, through to volunteer days working on conservation tasks such as our Growing Local Flora project, we engage with schools and the local community, as well as welcoming visitors from across the region, to connect as many people as possible with the wild world around them.
Learn more about EcoPark's wealth of wildlife, range of habitats and sustainable features here:
EcoPark wildlife & habitats
As you would expect from a Wildlife Trust site (although not necessarily one in the middle of such a built up area) EcoPark is full of wildlife. The ponds are home to a large population of frogs and newts with dragonflies buzzing around the surface in the summer and plenty of smaller creatures for the children to discover when pond dipping. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators fill the air in summer thanks to the plentiful flower-rich areas for them to feed on. Minibeasts of every size and shape have all the homes they need to thrive provide a wealth of interest to the most inquisitive minds. Birds from buzzards and sparrowhawks to woodpeckers, long-tailed tits and more common garden birds are all regularly seen around the grounds or overhead. There is everything you could want to get your children inspired by nature here.
If you are looking to teach your children about habitats, EcoPark is the place to come. For such a small site, it has an amazing array of different habitats, which is why it can support so much wildlife.
It has several fantastic ponds. The largest one was created in 1997 and supports a tremendous range of wildlife, including frogs, toads and newts and even sticklebacks! The pond collects rainwater from the rest of the site, and excess water can be pumped to storage at the top of the site for watering plants or filling the smaller ponds. The pumps are powered by electricity from the wind and solar generators. The smaller ponds are used by schools for pond dipping - there are a number of platforms just above water level to allow this and similar activities to be conducted in safety.
There is a remarkable young woodland, planted on intertwining mounds of soil that were excavated when the ponds were dug. Between the mounds a path winds back and forth, creating the impression of a long walk through mature woodland, despite fitting into a surprisingly small space! The ups and downs of the mounds also create a much wider range of micro-habitats than are found in most planted woodlands, so this is a really good little wood for wildlife. The Growing Local Flora project is helping to add more field layer flora into this woodland, too, so it is becoming more biodiverse all the time.
EcoPark also has a meadow which was created using green hay from a SSSI through the Nature Improvement Area and other areas of grassland, which provide a home to many invertebrates. There is also scrub and even an orchard (yes you CAN pick yourself an apple if you visit in the autumn!) and there are some really wonderful big, old trees all around the site's boundaries.
Sustainable demonstration features at EcoPark
The EcoPark has many different and exciting demonstration features. There is wind and solar powered energy generation, including a Rutland wind turbine. There is a demonstration wildlife garden, on the scale of a typical suburban garden - complete with a wonderful fig tree that produces a huge harvest of figs each summer. There are reed beds which are used for ecological water treatment.
There are also banks of compost bins, a tree nursery, the famous 'telepole wall'.
Meet Holly, our Community Engagement Officer, Niel, our Senior Training Officer and Francesca, our Senior Conservation Officer - together they make up our brilliant EcoPark team!
Whilst Holly runs inspiring and entertaining activities for children and adults alike, Niel is training the conservationists of the future and Francesca is busy making sure that the site is thriving for both people and wildlife.
We're proud to have them on site and we can't wait for you to meet them when you visit!