Vol­un­teers to help keep good track record for wildlife

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP - SARAH ROE

SUSTRANS is ap­peal­ing for more vol­un­teers to help with na­ture con­ser­va­tion work on cy­cle and walk­ing routes in South Manch­ester, Black­burn, Old­ham and Ash­ton, thanks to new fund­ing to record and con­serve wildlife across the Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work.

Es­mée Fair­bairn Foun­da­tion awarded £400,000 fund­ing over three years to Sustrans to con­tinue and ex­pand wildlife con­ser­va­tion work across more than 400km of cy­cle and walk­ing routes in the Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work, in­clud­ing the Fal­low­field Loop, routes from Old­ham to Ash­ton, God­ley to Apethorne and the Padi­ham Green­way (Black­burn).

The Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work was es­tab­lished by Sustrans in 1995 to en­cour­age cy­cling through­out Bri­tain and it now stretches 14,700 miles across the UK.

The char­ity needs vol­un­teers to help man­age habi­tats to pro­tect and at­tract a wide va­ri­ety of plants and an­i­mals and run wildlifethemed events as part of the Greener Green­ways pro­ject.

Since 2013 vol­un­teers have worked on 280km of traf­fic-free paths across the North West, York­shire, the Mid­lands and Wales to record and mon­i­tor wildlife and Sustrans will now ex­pand the pro­ject to a fur­ther 138km of off-road cy­cle and walk­ing paths.

Vol­un­teers take part in reg­u­lar sur­veys and spe­cial events such as ‘Bioblitzes’ to record as many species as pos­si­ble in one day within a des­ig­nated area of a path. To date the pro­ject has pro­vided over 3,000 wildlife records to lo­cal record cen­tres, in­clud­ing rare finds such as Barn Owl, Red Squir­rel and Grass Snake.

Traf­fic-free paths, usu­ally on for­mer rail­way lines and canal tow­paths, make up around a third of Bri­tain’s Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work.

Of­ten in ur­ban ar­eas, they act as havens for na­ture and pro­vide es­sen­tial cor­ri­dors for wildlife to move and adapt as their habi­tats shrink due to de­vel­op­ment, cli­mate change and dis­ease.

Sustrans ecol­o­gist David Wat­son said: “We’re de­lighted to re­ceive this fund­ing to help us con­tinue wildlife con­ser­va­tion along the Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work. Greater Manch­ester has many well-used paths for bats, hedge­hogs, birds and in­sects, as well as peo­ple.

“Lin­ear paths with­out the dis­tur­bance of traf­fic help plants and an­i­mals to move around to find food and reach new habi­tats, which makes them more re­silient in the long term.

“We ur­gently need vol­un­teers in Greater Manch­ester so if you would like to get in­volved in mon­i­tor­ing wildlife on the Loop please get in touch!’

If you are in­ter­ested in be­com­ing a wildlife cham­pion please con­tact Sarah Roe on T: 0161 233 4071 or sarah.roe@ sustrans.org.uk

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Greener Green­ways Pro­ject go to the Sustrans web­site.

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