Situated four miles from the centre of Leeds, Rodley Nature Reserve is a manmade, species rich wetland site on the bank of the River Aire.
The project started in 2003, when the Rodley Nature Reserve trustees decided to establish a Dragonfly Conservation Area (DCA).
Phase 1 (2004-06) Five ponds were created, one of which was decked on two sides for the use of school groups. These ponds were planted out using native species, each pond differing in choice of plants.
Phase 2 (2007-2009) A further four ponds were established; also a long (45 m) ditch and a marsh area with six areas of open water.
Additional habitat work Grass paths interlink all of the water bodies to provide good public access. A hedge has been planted on three sides to provide protection, as well as roosting sites for adult dragonflies. Trees on the adjacent riverbank have been cut back to increase the foraging area for adult Banded Demoiselle.A considerable amount of soil had to be moved to raise the level of the paths to prevent flooding in winter and all of the ponds had to be lined because of the fluctuating water table. A JCB was hired for some of the heavy work but all the rest has been carried out by a group of dedicated volunteers and occasional visiting parties. Since the water bodies are lined it is necessary to have a source of water in times of drought and thus an irrigation system was designed so that filtered water can be pumped selectively into any pond from a ditch in the adjacent wet grassland. Maintenance is provided by a group of volunteers who spend at least one day a week working at the reserve throughout the year.
Funding In total the project has cost about £50,000. The BDS, Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society, the RNR Trust and the Friends of Rodley provided ‘pump priming’ funding, which helped to obtain further grants from Green Leeds, the Community Chest (Leeds), WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd), the Big Lottery Fund and the Co-op. Accenture provided funding for maintenance and the George Martin Trust paid for a display board. The RNR Trust provides funding for continuing maintenance.
In 2007 the Rodley Nature Reserve became a BBC ‘Breathing Place’. The project is a great success with over 15 odonate species having been recorded along with breeding toads, frogs and newts. Reserve volunteers continue to organise dragonfly days and other events where people can learn about the site’s spectacular insects.