Nature Reserve

Over the years Stanwick Lakes has seen many changes. Perhaps one of the most noticeable ones is its transformation from gravel quarry to the 750 acre nature reserve we see today.

Hanson aggregates (formerly ARC) quarried the area now known as Stanwick Lakes from 1985 to 2004 when the last load of gravel was taken off site. Even during quarrying, the area became home to large numbers of birds as the disused quarry pits filled with water after extraction. The site was restored as part of the planning agreement to shape the former pits into the mosaic of lakes with shallow margins for the huge variety of birds that frequented the site.

In 2005 the area was made a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Also in 2005, Stanwick Lakes was made a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which meant that it was now protected for conservation under British law. SSSIs are the country’s very best wildlife and geological sites and are important as they support plants and animals that find it more difficult to survive in the wider countryside. They need active management to maintain their conservation interest and our team of rangers and volunteers work throughout the year to ensure this. See ‘Conservation Work’ for more information.

In April 2011, Stanwick Lakes was also included within the Nene Valley Special Protection Area (SPA). This European Natura 2000 designation helps to protect sites which are particularly important for birds which depend on specialised or restricted habitats for breeding, feeding, wintering or migration. This makes the site as important to nature conservation as areas like the Camargue in France or the Danube Delta in Romania.