YORKSHIRE Wildlife Trust has become the new owner of one of the county's finest nature reserves, thanks to a successful public appeal.

It has bought Staveley nature reserve between Knaresborough and Boroughbridge, where it has been creating a wildlife haven for plants and birds in a 16-hectare sector for ten years under licence.

The 39-hectare buy-out has been made possible by generous donations from wildlife enthusiasts and support from English Nature.

David Hargreaves, nature reserves manager, said: "We've spent ten years making it an important wildlife habitat, but then the owners wanted to sell. If we hadn't raised the money, its future would have been very uncertain.

"So many people in Yorkshire responded to our appeal. It shows how much people care.

"English Nature thought the site was so important that it has given us a major grant from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. We also used some legacies to buy Staveley."

He added: "We now have enough money to improve the habitats and provide more information for visitors. As well as the current reserve, we've been able to buy some extra land alongside it which will let us encourage even more species in the years to come."

Bob Evison, chairman of the reserve management committee, added: "Local people have been working hard at Staveley for years, so we're delighted that its future is now secure. There's so much wildlife to enjoy. Lapwing, sandmartin, grasshopper, warbler, reed warbler and sedge warbler all breed here.

"In winter, a host of wildfowl visit, along with rarer species like short-eared owl and jack snipe."

There are also rare plants, 19 species of dragonfly and rare water beetles.

The reserve was previously known as Staveley Carrs, notable for its rare marsh plants.

The appeal is still open and any further donations will be used for the continuing management of the habitats. For more information, visit www.yorkshire-wildlife-trust.org.uk or call 01904 659570.