2018 highlights: An incredible year for local wildlife

The Living Seas flash mob at Liverpool One

2018 has been one of our most exciting years yet. Thanks to our amazing members, supporters, volunteers, staff, partners and funders, we have achieved more than we ever thought possible.

New insect species recorded at Brockholes

This year, three new bee species were recorded at Brockholes nature reserve:

  • Gwynne’s mining bee (Andrena bicolor)
  • Common yellow-face bee (Hylaeus communis)
  • Wilke’s mining bee (Andrena wilkella)

This took the total number of bee species seen on the reserve to 53, but this wasn’t the only cause for celebration. Seven new hoverflies were also spotted by eagle-eyed visitors, taking our hoverfly species-count to 75. Plus, the gorgeous green hairstreak butterfly was recorded on-site for the first time ever!

Brockholes' floating Visitor Village during spring

Brockholes Nature Reserve by Charlotte Varela

Brockholes continues to grow

The Brockholes team haven’t just been busy improving the reserve for pollinators – they have also celebrated some landmark achievements:

  • Secured £300k from Young Lancashire for the Lancashire Woodland Oases project
  • 4,647 school visits between April and September – our busiest year to date!
  • Busiest year for school grounds work to date
  • Trained more Forest School staff than ever before
  • Secured the ‘Eye on Brockholes’ project – installation of the live webcams has begun
  • Worked with 135 active volunteers

Forest School project goes from strength to strength

More than 900 children from eight schools and nurseries across Manchester and Liverpool have experienced the benefits of Forest School, and have grown closer to nature thanks to support from the players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Detection Dogs for Red Squirrels

Red squirrel detection dogs

Red Squirrel Project pioneers innovative conservation work

Our Red Squirrel Project does fantastic work to conserve the nationally important red squirrel population in Merseyside, but in 2018, it went one step further. The project now has the help of red squirrel detection dogs who can sniff out deceased red squirrels! It is incredibly important to remove these carcasses from the area so we can examine them for pox, and stop the infection from spreading. We humans simply couldn’t search an area as quickly or thoroughly as a dog with its unparalleled sense of smell and sense of drive.

Conservation success at Middleton Nature Reserve

This post-industrial brownfield nature reserve, managed on behalf of Lancaster City Council, continues to go from strength to strength:

  • 20+ small heath butterflies (a species of national conservation concern) counted on-site
  • Three pairs of Cetti’s warbler (a UK rarity!) bred in habitat created by the removal of invasive plant species
  • More than 30 broad-bodied chaser dragonflies bred in some of the 15 new ponds created by staff and volunteers
A large heath butterfly perched on a wildflower at Heysham Moss nature reserve

Large heath butterfly by Alan Wright

Incredible plans for the Great Manchester Wetlands

Amazing things have been happening in the Great Manchester Wetlands:

  • Received £334k from Defra to help us restore Little Woolden Moss
  • Received £94k from Heathrow Airport to help us restore Little Woolden Moss
  • Planted thousands of important mossland plants to help heal the Chat Moss mosslands, including sphagnum moss and hare’s-tail cottongrass.
  • VIPs including Emma Howard Boyd (Chair of the Environment Agency), Paul Dennett (Salford City Mayor) and Andy Burnham (the Mayor of Manchester) visited Little Woolden Moss to hear about our conservation work and hopes for the future.

Most exciting of all, we were given the green light to kickstart a reintroduction of the locally extinct large heath aka. Manchester argus butterfly to the Chat Moss area. Working in partnership with Chester Zoo, the project will see butterflies raised in artificial mossland habitats and then released onto our local mosslands to recolonise the area.

Bog bush crickets found on four mossland sites

Up until this summer there was just one record of bog bush crickets on Cadishead Moss in 2013, and around ten records from Holcroft Moss in 2016. So, trainees from our Carbon Landscape project carried out new surveys across Highfield, Astley, Little Woolden, Cadishead, Holcroft, Pestfurlong and Risley mosses.

Bat detectors were used to pick up the sound made by male bog bush crickets: rare insects that depend on lowland raised peat bogs (a rare habitat in itself). Amazingly, we recorded bog bush crickets on all sites apart from Highfield, Astley and Risley mosses, making the future look a little brighter for this amazing little creature.

The Living Seas North West team ready to perform in a marine flash mob in Liverpool

The Living Seas flash mob at Liverpool One

Living Seas connects thousands of people with the coast

As the Irish Sea faces more threats than ever before, the Living Seas North West team worked passionately to connect local communities with our region’s coasts. The ‘Our Irish Sea’ project engaged 5,969 people (including 3,415 children) through more than 25 different types of events in 16 coastal locations. It carried out 42 coastal surveys to examine the health of our coastlines, and delivered education sessions to 14 schools, colleges and universities, engaging with 1,117 students.

We also launched a huge campaign to lobby the government for more Marine Conservation Zones:

  • 799 letters signed and sent to DEFRA
  • 212 emails sent to DEFRA
  • 640 postcards completed by children and sent to Theresa May
  • Organised a flash mob in Liverpool City Centre
  • Delivered six Marine Conservation Zone sessions in schools

Did you take part in one of our marine events or engage with our Living Seas team? Fill in this survey and help us illustrate just how big the project’s impact has been.

Fill in our quick survey

Myplace project changes lives

Our Myplace project has gone from strength to strength this year, not only enjoying a visit from HRH Prince Harry, but changing the lives of more than 700 young people and adults through ecotherapy projects across Lancashire. One of these adults is Graham Donaldson, who achieved the Conserver John Muir Award in just eight months of being with Myplace. Since joining us in May he has completed 20 days of volunteering, both as a ranger at Brockholes and as a Myplace Ecotherapy Volunteer at a separate hub. Despite struggling with severe depression and anxiety Graham continues to attend our sessions and never gives up, saying that:

“My Place has been a real lifeline… I felt there was utterly no hope or purpose to my life and that suicide was the best option. Myplace has been instrumental in bringing me out of that way of thinking, and while I still suffer quite badly from depression, and do have suicidal thoughts, their intensity has been greatly reduced. I am very grateful for the feeling of purpose and relief from anxiety and depression I get from being out of doors working with others.”

A common tern hovering over the water at Seaforth

Common tern at Seaforth by Alan Wright

Volunteers help us achieve incredible things in Merseyside

Volunteers helped us to restore, launch and retrieve nine tern rafts at Seaforth Nature Reserve; work that saw 171 pairs of common terns nest and successfully fledge 152 chicks.

At Freshfield Dune Heath, volunteers put in more than 1,300 man hours to help us maintain one of the UK’s rarest habitats, clearing 878m2 of gorse! At our nearby Lunt Meadows nature reserve, volunteers helped us build a birdwatching hide, create a nest bank for kingfishers, pull invasive Himalayan balsam, grow 4,000 reedlings and collect more than £1,000 in donations for the reserve!

More cause for celebration

Believe it or not, these aren’t all of our key achievements for the year! We also…

  • With the help of Bolton Council, we launched Moss Bank Park Café which we aim to help fund our work on the site
  • Co-ordinated a visit from HRH Prince Harry to Brockholes to see our ground-breaking MyPlace project, a partnership with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Protected 10 of our reserves from adjacent planning applications
  • Launched our My Wild City initiative at the Mayors Green Summit in Manchester
  • Saw more than 3,000 people in Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside take part in 30 Days Wild
  • Launched a Wilder Future campaign for the Environment Act
  • Trained 765 volunteers, taking our volunteer total to 1,067 active volunteers

We can’t wait to see what the next 12 months bring, but we need your help to make 2019 even more successful than 2018. Help us protect even more species, restore even more wild spaces and engage even more people with the natural beauty on their doorstep.

Become a member today