A DALES nature reserve held its annual general meeting following what was described as a challenging year.

Ruth Farrow, chairman of Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve, at Catterick Garrison, opened the meeting. During a year when the management group underwent considerable change following an extraordinary general meeting, new members were voted on, including an acting chairman. Following her resignation, Mrs Farrow was elected to the post.

Addressing the meeting, she said: “The main issue we faced this year was the threat to our access through the barracks.

“We mounted a campaign and had tremendous support from the many groups who use the reserve. Negotiations went on for the best part of the year during which time we were able to secure new passes for everyone who needed them and also had very welcome support and co-operation from The Queen's Royal Lancers.

“In November a meeting was held to discuss the access issue and the future of Foxglove Covert, at which it was decided not to go ahead with the proposed car park and that funding from the Ministry of Defence would be continued.”

Committee member Jacky Bottrill reported eight grants were applied for, of which five were successful, providing much-needed funds of £8,262.

In his presentation, reserve manager Adam Edmond gave an update of the flora, fauna and other wildlife found at Foxglove.

In total, 2,479 species have been identified to date with 32 new species added in 2014. Otters were seen on the lake by several different groups of visitors and water voles are doing well across the site. For the first time, reed warblers are breeding.

Monthly walks surveying wildflowers have found saw-wort growing in three new locations and wild turnip is one of the new flower species recorded. The internationally threatened species pillwort has been observed in the wetland pools.

Six new species of fungi and many new invertebrate have been identified including pine ladybird and red-breasted carrion beetle.

Data from the weekly transect has shown butterflies have fared well. A purple hairstreak was recorded on the reserve for the first time on July 11.

Moth trapping has taken off with a dedicated team coming in each Wednesday to help identify the catch.

During the year, Foxglove was accepted into The Flagship Pond Scheme acknowledging ponds on the reserve are some of the best in the country.

The meeting heard that their large group of volunteers carried out much of the reserve’s work – 2,472 volunteer days took place, equating to a monetary value of £123,600. This was an increase of 200 days on the previous year.

During 2014, 1,317 people visited the reserve on school visits, which were at capacity. Along with guided walks, evening talks and other visits, students from the Youth Justice Service have been carrying out reparation work.

On TripAdvisor, Foxglove Covert was rated as the second best attraction in the Richmond area, with ten reviews from visitors all rating it as excellent.

For more information or to find out about volunteering, visit www.foxglovecovert.org.uk.