ONE of North Yorkshire's finest nature reserves has had its future safeguarded after it was bought using donations from thousands of wildlife enthusiasts across the county.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, backed by a flood of public donations and cash from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, has bought Staveley Nature Reserve.

The reserve, just north of Staveley village, between Knaresborough and Boroughbridge, is a particularly important site for birds and plantlife.

For the past ten years, the trust has managed 16 hectares of the site under licence, but has now been able to buy a total of 39 hectares.

David Hargreaves, nature reserves manager for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 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."

Already, the trust is considering expanding the site by buying adjacent land.

Staveley is a breeding ground for lapwing, sand martin, grasshopper warbler, reed warbler and sedge warbler. It is also home to a variety of winter visitors, such as short-eared owl and jack snipe. In all, more than 200 species of bird 230 species of plant and 19 species of dragonfly make their home in the marshes.

Bob Evison, chairman of the reserve management committee, said: "Local people have been working hard at Staveley for years, so we're delighted that its future is now secure. There is so much wildlife to enjoy."