WILDLIFE campaigners have acquired an internationally-important grassland in the North-East as its latest nature reserve.

Durham WildlifeTrust has taken on the land at Herrington Hill from a private owner after raising the money from the Banister Charitable Trust and an anonymous donation.

Herrington Hill is situated between Houghton-le-Spring and Sunderland, about three miles to the north of the trust's headquarters at Rainton Meadows.

The site is a magnesian limestone grassland, itself a rare type of habitat, but, as described by DWT Reserves Manager Mark Richardson, Herrington Hill is particularly important.

Mark said: “The majority of Herrington Hill is a primary magnesian limestone grassland, one that has remained undisturbed for centuries, and this 17-acre site represents more than 10 per cent of the total area of this habitat found in the UK.

“Due to its importance, the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) by the Government.

‘’It supports a wide range of unusual plant species, such as blue moor-grass, a particular feature of magnesian limestone grasslands. There are also a wide range of wildflowers including carline thistle, common rock-rose, bird’s-foot trefoil, cowslip, fairy flax and wild thyme.

"The grassland is also rich in insects and meadow brown butterfly (pictured below) and common blue butterfly are abundant during the summer months.’’

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mark added: “This is a rare and precious wildlife habitat and by acquiring it the Trust can ensure that it is protected for ever. The positive difference nature makes to our everyday lives is being realised more and more and the first step to protecting wildlife for future generations is to make sure special places like Herrington Hill are protected.’’