Effort to save endangered species voted best heritage project at National Lottery Awards
- The rare-species conservation project was voted the best heritage project by members of the public at the National Lottery 25th Birthday celebration
- In just three years, the project has brought together experts and almost 3,000 volunteers providing more than twenty-years-worth of volunteer time to help save endangered species
The ground-breaking project Back from the Brink has been voted the best heritage project at the National Lottery Awards. The project was only possible thanks to £4.6 million in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is a collaboration of conservation organisations working together to save England’s most endangered species from extinction.
Back from the Brink projects are working across England from Cornwall to Northumberland, as specialists and volunteers work to save 20 species from extinction and put 100 more on the road to recovery. Vital to the success of the project has been its volunteers, so far almost 3,000 people have contributed more than 6,000 days of volunteer time – the equivalent of more than twenty years of work, all to save endangered species.
This work and volunteer effort is paying off.
In Northamptonshire, the Butterfly Conservation-led Roots of Rockingham project have reintroduced the Chequered Skipper butterfly which was last seen in England in 1976. Adult butterflies were brought over from Belgium and released at a secret site in Rockingham Forest. This year the first English-bred Chequered Skippers emerged in almost fifty years.
In Northumberland, the Vincent Wildlife Trust-led Pine Marten project managed to capture the first ever footage of a Pine Marten in Northumberland, and has seen a surge in reports of this species from the public.
In Sussex, the RSPB-led Field Cricket project has translocated crickets to new sites to form new populations. This year more than 300 males were heard calling at RSPB Farnham Heath alone, an amazing success considering that in the 1980s there were less than 100 left in the entire country.
In Dorset, the Plantlife-led Dorset’s Heathland Heart project had amazing success with their innovative Marsh Clubmoss conservation strategy – driving over it with a tractor. This deliberate work created new areas of disturbed ground, exactly what this tiny, rare wild plant needs to thrive, and the population quadrupled as a result.
The Bumblebee Conservation-led Shrill Carder Bee project has worked with local landowners in Somerset & the Thames Gateway to improve the management of over 100 hectares of land for the species, and new sites have been found for this endangered bumblebee.
In Devon, the Buglife-led Narrow-headed Ant project has been trialling techniques to translocate entire nests from their last remaining English site and back onto historical sites that are now better managed for the species.
Also in Devon, the Bat Conservation Trust-led Grey Long-eared Bat project has been making more people aware of one of the rarest mammals in the UK. From a starting point of many people in the local community being unaware of this species to being concerned in their conservation is a great outcome. One of the biggest wins for the project has been inspiring land owners to take this rare species into account in the way they manage their farmland.
In Merseyside, the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation-led Gems in the Dunes project has been working with enthusiastic volunteers to survey the tiny, endangered and beautiful Petalwort. When the project began this delicate liverwort was only known from four sites within the Sefton Dunes with a total of 100 individuals, but thanks to the dedicated searching of local people we have found more than 2,500 plants across fifteen sites.
James Harding-Morris from Back from the Brink said ‘One of the real wonders of Back from the Brink is how people have welcomed the often-obscure species we’re working on into their hearts. When endangered species are mentioned it is very easy to think of pandas, tigers and polar bears, but in fact there are even rarer species on our doorsteps that all of us can help save on a local scale.‘.
If you would like to get involved or find out how you could help save an endangered species from extinction visit: naturebftb.co.uk
The National Lottery Awards show is broadcast on the 19tNovember on BBC One.