Darlington is the western most borough of the Tees Valley, with borders with Stockton-on-Tees to the east, County Durham to the north and west and North Yorkshire to the south. The southern border contains the River Tees, with the River Skerne running through the centre of the Borough.
Darlington Borough currently has 42 nationally and locally designated wildlife sites, providing different levels of protection for a growing range of protected and priority habitats and species, including skylark, grey partridge, lapwing, noctule bat and Daubenton’s bat.
These include: four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI):
- Newton Ketton Meadow SSSI.
- Redcar Field SSSI.
- Neasham Fen SSSI.
- Hell Kettles SSSI.
Local Nature Reserves (LNR) including:
- The Whinnies.
- Drinkfield Marsh.
With many more Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and Community Woodlands in the Borough. Darlington also has three Local Geological Sites that protect areas of geological value in the Borough.
Darlington has an abundance of street trees and open space within the urban area contributing to the town’s distinctiveness and biodiversity, particularly the green corridors along the River Tees, River Skerne, Cocker Beck and Baydale Beck. Outside the urban area, a magnesian limestone escarpment forms higher land and a rare ecosystem at the northern fringe of the Borough.
A variety of important habitats are present within Darlington which support an assemblage of wildlife. These include broadleaf, ancient and semi-natural woodland which support wildlife such as badgers, foxes, bats, and tawny owl; lowland meadows, other neutral grassland, and unimproved hay meadows which support small mammals such as voles, shrews, and also ground nesting birds such as skylark and meadow pipit. Darlington has a good number of freshwater habitats including ponds, fens and marshes which support water vole, otter, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates. There are areas of community woodland planting, especially at the urban fringe, and also traditional orchards present in the borough, which provide important foraging opportunities for birds as well as for people.
The Borough hosts a variety of habitats and species, including some, like the black poplar and the European protected great crested newt, that are rare and/or declining regionally or nationally.