A CELEBRATION will be held to mark the declaration of a Southampton park as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

Peartree Green will be formally given the title by civic chiefs on Saturday, April 7.

It will given the 20 hectare park extra protection against possible future development.

To mark the occasion, The Friends of Peartree Green will host a special celebration day.

The event will begin with a dog walk at 9am, followed by a formal declaration and ceremony on Peartree Green at 10am.

A children's nature hunt will run throughout the day, allowing youngsters to explore the park's diverse wildlife, including insects, birds and small mammals.

This will be followed by a guided walk through the park at 2pm, led by Southampton ecologist, Phil Budd.

United Reform Church Hall will also provide refreshments throughout the day, which is due to end at 3.30pm.

Work began on acquiring the nature reserve status for Peartree Green early last year.

As part of the project, which involved writing an extensive report on the site, the group invited city school children to map the area’s wildlife.

Alongside a butterfly hunt, the group also used humane traps to record the number of mammals.

Paul Lewzey, who is chair of the Friends of Peartree Green and also a city councillor for Peartree, said the group found several types of small mammals, including mice and voles.

He said: “This green space is a key part of the amenity for residents in Woolston, right down to Bitterne and Sholing.

“This status gives it another layer of protection against future development.

“It’s another way of the city expressing its determination to keep this as a green space.”

As part of the designation, due to be confirmed following the results of a public consultation, the group has set out its plans to improve Peartree Green.

These include better signage and an improved pathway, which will make the area more accessible for people with disabilities.

Peartree Green will become the city’s fifth local nature reserve.

The other four are Chessel Bay, Millers Pond, Netley Common and Westwood Woodland Park.