Wildlife Habitats 

A diverse mosaic of wildlife habitats are present in the Country Park, ranging from ancient semi-natural woodland through to exposed quarry faces.

Generally these habitats are, as expected for an urban fringe area, heavily influenced and somewhat degraded by the actions of man. Activities such as agriculture, development, industry and forestry, have impacted heavily on the environment, altering the naturalness of the countryside and other areas of greenspace. Indeed, much of our existing woodland cover is of planted origin, and of the 2650 hectares of woodland in Leeds only 300 hectares, or 11%, is unplanted in origin.

Nevertheless, significant areas of woodland, grassland and wetland still exist,  including stands of ancient woodland (land that has been under constant woodland cover for at least 400 years), and these places continue to provide important habitats for wildlife.

Where well established habitat remains, it tends to be associated with steep landscapes, large parkland estates and along waterlogged river valleys.

Generally, these natural places also tend to reflect the types of habitat and the mix of species expected in this part of the district, taking in to account physical features such as underlying rock types associated soils and the climate.

Several of the habitats found within the Country Park area are also included in the Habitat Action Plans contained within the Local Biodiversity Action Plan for Leeds.

Phase 1 Habitat Survey

In the mid 1980’s, Leeds commissioned a Phase 1 survey of wildlife habitats. This is the base standard method of habitat survey in the UK, developed in the 1980s by the then Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England) for the purpose of auditing and mapping the distribution of terrestrial and freshwater habitats (of which there are around 90 standard types) which are identified according to characteristic vegetation and other environmental features.

The information, drafted onto 1:10 000 maps, gives an overview rather than a comprehensive assessment of specific wildlife habitats, but provides a valuable vegetative appraisal of an area none the less.

Ecological Context

(Wildlife habitats and the biodiversity of the Country Park)

Mapped Phase 1 habitats -  West Leeds Country Park 

A number of key nature conservation sites have been identified as being nationally, regionally or locally important in terms of the habitats and wildlife they support, and as such have been given designations which are intended to help protect them.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

This refers to sites identified by Natural England, the government agency responsible for nature conservation, as being of national or international importance for their flora, fauna, geology or landforms. This is a statutory designation which operates throughout Great Britain, and certain activities within these sites are restricted or need consent from Natural England.

Sites of Ecological or Geological Importance (SEGI)

These are sites identified as being important at a regional level for the flora, fauna, geology or landforms they support, following recommendation by the West Yorkshire Ecological Advisory Service or the West Yorkshire Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) Group.

Within the Leeds district, SEGI’s are designated by Leeds City Council.

Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Local Nature Reserves are statutory designations, operated by Leeds City Council in agreement with Natural England. These locally significant sites are of special interest for the conservation, study and enjoyment of the flora, fauna, geology or landforms they support, and in which the City Council has a legal interest.

Leeds Nature Area (LNA)

These are sites of local significance, which are important for the public’s enjoyment, study and conservation of wildlife, geological features and landforms. In neighbourhoods that have few key nature conservation sites, areas with the greatest potential are designated to provide sites of natural interest close to peoples' homes.

Nature Conservation designated sites in the West Leeds Country Park and green gateways area: - 

First level hierarchy

Second level hierarchy

Third level hierarchy

Woodland and scrub


Broadleaved Mixed


Dense/continuou Scattered

Parkland and scattered trees




Semi improved




Semi improved

Marsh / marshy grassland



Dry dwarf shrub heath


Open water

Standing water


Running water



Artificial rock exposures


Spoil Tip


Cultivated land



Intact hedge

Defunct hedge

Hedgerow with trees



Dry ditch





Bare ground

Site of Special Scientific Interest

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Site of Geological or Ecological Importance

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Local Nature Reserve

Farnley Fish Pond

Leeds Nature Area

Bramley Fall Woods / Lower Falls

Hawksworth Wood

Hunger Hills

Kirkstall Wildflower Garden

Nan Whin’s Wood

The Outwood (Newlay Wood and Rein Road)

Post Hill

Silver Royd Hill

Swaine Wood

Woodhall Lake

West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways


Return to the Management Plan Contents page, click the blue button

Return to the West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways home  page, click the green button

West Leeds Country Park Management Plan Contents