Shelford rail station receives ‘Wildlife Friendly Station’ status

Published on: Monday, 16 October 2023
Last updated: Monday, 16 October 2023

Kathryn and Philip Ball with their accreditation certificate at Shelford station

Shelford rail station has received a ‘Wildlife Friendly’ accreditation recognising the work of community volunteers to improve biodiversity and support nature there.

Greater Anglia has partnered with the region’s Wildlife Trusts to formally recognise the achievements of its teams of volunteer ‘station adopters’ to create wildlife havens at stations across its network, through the new ‘Greater Anglia Wildlife Friendly Stations Accreditation Scheme.’

Shelford’s station adopters, Philip and Kathryn Ball, received the award following an assessment by a Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust Conservation Officer to determine how well the station supports local flora and fauna.

The ecologist’s report noted that although the station has a small garden area, it has been managed well to benefit wildlife and create an attractive environment, planted appropriately with shrubs, climbing plants and a variety of flowers to help support pollinating insects.

Since becoming ‘station adopters’ Philip and Kathryn have tended the station garden and have kept detailed records of all the plants - including the wild ones - and observed the impact that they have on butterfly and moth populations and other wildlife.

The records and photography are then displayed in the waiting room for all to see and submitted for insect population surveys.

They have also built and installed a bee hotel and grow specialist varieties of bee-friendly plants - including wildflower species.

Philip and Kathryn are also developing a new border to create a nectar-rich ‘moth garden’ which releases scent at nighttime. This will help to sustain the moths which are attracted by the platform lights. They are also growing species of flowers from seed at home which specifically support different types of moths – they will shortly plant these flowers in the new ‘moth garden’.

James Hogg, Development Officer at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the lead Trust for the initiative, said:

“The alarming decline in the abundance of wildlife and the plight of species under threat means that just protecting the nature we have left is not enough; we need to put nature into recovery, and to do so at scale and with urgency.

“This project with Greater Anglia is a fantastic example of how people can transform nature-poor areas into new nature-rich places – and change the way we think about land, seizing opportunities to help nature outside traditional nature reserves.”

Each assessment also offers tips and advice for how to make the stations more wildlife friendly and the reports can also be used as examples of best practice, to help spread good ideas around all Greater Anglia’s stations.

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said,

“We are delighted to partner with the region’s wildlife trusts to formally recognise the valuable work of our station adopter volunteers in supporting wildlife and improving their local environment.”

“I’d like to congratulate Philip and Kathryn at Shelford station on receiving this recognition and thank them for the incredible work that they are doing that is helping to support biodiversity locally.”

There are now 19 stations across the Greater Anglia network which have received the “Wildlife Friendly” accreditation, with more expected to be certificated over the next year.

Rail stations in East Anglia are increasingly becoming havens for local wildlife thanks to the efforts of over 300 volunteers who last year transformed over 7,400 square metres of land into thriving wildlife gardens.

In a recent survey, Greater Anglia station adopters reported a wide range of creatures visiting their stations, including many different types of butterflies as well as bees, slow worms, bats, foxes, toads, lizards, deer, and many varieties of birds.

Over the last 20 years, since the start of station adoption in East Anglia, the initiative has thrived, so that the vast majority of Greater Anglia stations now have station adopters. These ongoing increases in the areas adopted and the wildlife being seen on the stations show that the adopters are really playing their part in helping to make stations more biodiverse, as well as becoming more attractive gateways to the communities they serve.

Greater Anglia has also joined the rest of the rail industry in pledging to make stations across Britain more sustainable.

Action to reduce waste, support local wildlife and cut the carbon footprint of railway stations will be informed by the industry’s Sustainable Stations: Best Practice Guide, which details ways in which train operators can meet this commitment in support of global goals of decarbonisation, reducing waste and supporting local plant and animal life.