A multi-million pound North West project is spearheading the latest thinking on the environment.
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Anne Selby said: “The sheer scale of this project is bigger, better and more joined up conservation, creating a resilient, inspirational landscape.”
Senior advisor at Natural England Amanda Wright said The Carbon Landscape is “restoring nature, reconnecting people and wildlife and instilling pride in the community – it means more nature for more people.”
They were speaking at the launch of the Carbon Landscape at Lancashire Mining Museum, where 70 guests, partners and staff were celebrating a project which will continue the transformation of huge areas of Salford, Warrington and Wigan.
The Carbon Landscape will restore nature to areas transformed by industries like coal-mining, peat extraction and iron and steel production.
While much of that industry has closed down and work has already been going on for decades to create green areas, the Carbon Landscape aims to connect these areas and get people involved in the restoration work.
Guests included Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, Salford’s Lead Member for Planning and Sustainable Development Councillor Derek Antrobus and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Director of Environment Mark Atherton and Natural Capital Co-ordinator Krista Patrick.
Other organisation represented included the Environment Agency, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Wigan Borough Council, Salford City Council, Warrington Borough Council, Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester, the Hamilton Davies Trust, The RSPB, Salford Community Leisure and other partners and organisations.
While the project is being led by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust it has 22 partners all playing key roles.
Anne continued: “As a wildlife conservation charity we have the power to designate a space as a Natural Improvement Area, and that’s exactly what we did for Greater Manchester
“The Carbon Landscape encompasses both nationally and internationally important wetlands, so we have a responsibility to save them.”
The project aims to restore more than 130 hectares of habitat, train more than 1,000 volunteers, enthuse 4,500 members of the public and offer free education to 40 schools.
The Carbon Landscape Restoration Officer Anna Hetterley said: “The Carbon Landscape is changing the way in which we approach landscapes and communities in Wigan, Salford and Warrington. Twenty-two interlinked projects will provide a forward-thinking and effective programme that will have lasting benefits for local communities and wildlife.
“Whilst this area undoubtedly has a rich heritage, both natural and man-made, the opportunities that this landscape can provide within a heavily urbanised area are largely missed. The Carbon Landscape will enhance and connect up the restoration of this landscape, altered by industry, creating and improving nationally significant habitats and reconnecting local people with the heritage and wealth of opportunities for enjoyment and learning on their doorstep.”
Carbon Landscape Officer Lydia Dayes said: “We want to get people excited about the area, we want to inspire the community with legacy walks, engagement events, workshops, training days and more.”
The projects include the Carbon Trail, a route linking wild space in between urban areas; Carbon Volunteers, getting people involved in improving the landscape and the Mossland Gateway to improve pedestrian and cyclist assess to Chat Moss.
Other plans include activities for all ages, an educational programme for schools, physical and online interpretation of the landscape and wildlife monitoring. There will be improvements on sites like Wigan Flashes, Hey Brook in Wigan, Risley Moss, Rixton Clay Pits, Woolston Eyes and Paddington Meadows in Warrington.
The Carbon Landscape is part of the Great Manchester Wetlands, a partnership of local authorities, statutory organisations, environmental charities and community groups. It was established in 2011 to deliver improvements to nature and wildlife of some 40,000 ha for the benefit of local communities.