Historic Saltwells set for special Government status
An 18th century nature reserve could be given special status by the government for conservation purposes.
Saltwells Nature Reserve, located in Netherton, Dudley, is set for National Nature Reserve Status this Autumn.
The prestigious status is rarely awarded and is handed out for the purposes of conservation and environmental research.
Wrens Nest also has this status which makes Dudley the only urban borough in the UK to have two parks with National Nature Reserve Status.
Saltwells Nature Reserve is historically important - both from the recent past and from the dinosaur era.
It was planted in the 1700s by Lady Dudley to hide the scars of coal mining. It is now of the country's largest urban nature reserves coverging 247 acres (0.3 sq m) and is well known locally for its vibrant bluebells.
And buried beneath the soil are remains from a past world of tropical seas and rivers.
These unique geological factors means Nature England, the government's advisors on the natural environment, has drawn up plans to award the nature reserve status.
Doctor Jonathan Larwood, geologist for Natural England, said: "An ambition of the new NNR strategy is to tell England’s geological story through the network of NNRs. Saltwells is an exciting step on this journey through time.
"Not only does Saltwells provide a glimpse into the past world of tropical seas and rivers, it connects this world to the history of Dudley and the Black Country.
"These rocks, laid down millions of years ago, were a source of clay for the famous Royal Doulton sanitary ware as well as the coal that was so critical to the industrial revolution.
"Dudley has a proven track record in caring for its geological heritage, and declaration as an NNR is testament to the team that has looked after Saltwells for so many years."
The reserve has a large friends group and plans are in place to build a new £450,000 warden’s base and education centre there.