From Devastation Comes Hope
A Wild Future
The Damage Done
As the UK population has continued to grow, housing has continued to be a priority, alongside food production and access via roads, rail tracks and canals. The plentiful ecosystems that once called this country their home have become damaged, causing the remaining nature to struggle. Currently, 56% of UK species are continuing to decline and a further 15% are actually near extinction!
Would it concern you to know that across the UK we have suffered more deforestation and loss of larger mammal species than any other country, except for Ireland, within Europe? The damage this has caused has been drastic, dramatic, and across a very short amount of time.
Not too Late! Re-assert, Reconnect and Reintroduce
As the space available to nature becomes less and less, and wildlife does not have the space it needs to thrive, what can we do to combat the issue and help nature?
It is an incredibly difficult job to restore and build the natural processes we have destroyed, however we can give nature a chance. This is a long process, and the time it has taken us to damage nature is a fraction of the time nature needs to mend itself. An example of this would be to potentially manage the high number of grazing animals in order to allow wildflower meadows to flourish and for natural woodlands to grow.
Another helping hand would be reintroducing locally extinct key species which have been lost due to damaged ecosystems, such as the Large Heath Butterfly (Manchester argus) for example. Once plentiful across the mosslands of Greater Manchester, we hope to return it to its former home and allow it to establish itself across the Chat Moss landscape.
Bigger, Better and More Joined Up
Over the last few decades bigger nature areas have been created, these have been protected, better managed and improved such as the Great Manchester wetlands. Now we are creating buffer zones around these sites to make them more resilient to climate change and human intervention, and to allow wildlife to move from one area to another by creating a joined up network. There are several key species that benefit from this kind of landscape conservation in this part of the world; Water Voles for instance are reliant on wildlife corridors, as well as Willow Tit, Brown Hare, Great Crested Newt and Bitterns.
For nature to recover in Britain, we need to act now, and we need to act fast. We need nature. We are part of a global ecosystem and no matter what we do next, we will play a crucial role in the story of wildlife in the UK and worldwide.
Ongoing Success Stories
The Wigan Flashes
The Flashes of Wigan - a prime example of where nature has reclaimed what industry had laid bare. It was here that former coal mines were abandoned after they became too expensive to keep tunnelling for coal extraction. There were over sixty coal mines in Wigan and Leigh. The height of Wigan’s coal mining industry was in the 1920s but the coal began to get harder and harder to find. The coal mines were abandoned and water rushed in. Virtually overnight the flashes formed. The loss of the coal mines left a landscape of devastation with giant slag heaps and workless families suffering financially.
From this devastation, there came hope. The region led the world in restoring wildlife habitats of post-industrial landscapes and now, they are beautiful wildlife reserves, with wetland and woodland habitats filled with an abundance of life in a variety of forms.
Risley Moss, a former munitions factory has had much of its former mossland restored. Through the Carbon Landscape Project the new area of Mini-Moss has been rewet, with channels blocked to raise the water levels. A new boardwalk has also been installed to allow school groups and the public safe access to this important habitat.
The Future is Bright!
Slowly but surely the wildlife is coming back. New plants, new flowers, new insects, new mammals and new birds are re-establishing themselves. Through the work of the partners in the Carbon Landscape and Great Manchester Wetlands, we are leading the way so that everyone can enjoy these beautiful greenspaces and reconnect with their heritage.