Volunteers to help keep good track record for wildlife
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.