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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Burial site becomes nature reserve
Red Squirrel
It is hoped rare species will be attracted to the site
Up to nine people are needed to run a nature reserve in Cumbria, which was created on a mass burial site of animals culled during the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will continue to own the Great Orton site where 500,000 cattle, pig and sheep carcasses were buried during the 2001 epidemic.

At its height, about 8,000 animals a day were buried, making it the UK's largest single mass burial site.

Since then, it has been decided that the 200 acre site - now called Watchtree - should be turned into a nature reserve.

Watchtree was the original name of the farm which stood on the land before World War II.

Tree planting

Work has already begun to transform the land, which is hoped will eventually become a haven for wildlife, including squirrels, hares, bats, newts and birds.

So far, the meadows have been seeded with a mixture of grasses and wildflowers, 58,000 trees have been planted, and a wetland has been created.

Watchtree will be run by between six to nine trustees, and it is hoped the Trust will be established by next April.

Defra plans to offer initial funding, but will not have a representative on the board.

Bright future for burial site
13 Nov 02  |  England
New life breathed into burial site
10 Nov 02  |  England

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