Dragonflies to soar as funding agreed to restore habitat at Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre

Dragonflies will be fluttering at a popular attraction after funding was agreed to restore its pond.

A small red-eyed damselfly
A small red-eyed damselfly

Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms has been given a National Lottery Awards For All grant after it became the first designated "hotspot" in England by the British Dragonfly Society.

The centre's dragonfly pond supports healthy populations of many different species, including the rare Small Red-Eyed Damselfly. In recent years however, the pond has become increasingly overgrown with reeds and shaded by trees which have grown up around the pond, leading to fears that open water, so essential for these expert hunters, would be lost altogether.

Ian Cheeseborough, meadows ranger and dragonfly expert, said: “What our dragonflies need are areas of open water to hunt, marginal reeds to lay their eggs and lots of direct sunshine to warm their bodies. In recent years the reeds have been encroaching ever further into the water and shrinking the pond. This, combined with the amount of shading from large trees means that life is less than ideal for our lovely dragons. Left unchecked, our pond would simply vanish, meaning this important habitat would be lost forever."

The award will pay for a contractor to excavate the pond and remove the reeds as well as take out some of the taller trees.

Ian added:“We’re really excited to get started on this super project. Although the process may look destructive at first, it will be done under the expert supervision of the British Dragonfly Society and carried out in late summer to minimise disruption. Once the restoration is complete, we are confident the pond will once again be teeming with these fascinating and ancient creatures.”

The Discovery Centre expects the project to take place in August next year, but in the meantime, dragonflies can be seen in around the ponds throughout the summer months.

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