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Boost For Wildlife At Lightshaw Meadows
Tuesday 6th September, 2011

Two years into a project to revive an area of Wigan’s wetlands, there is already good news for wildlife at Lightshaw Meadows.

Shaped by Wigan’s long industrial landscape, Lightshaw Meadows is a fantastically unique area for nature. Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Red Rose Forest are working to restore the area for the benefit of key habitats and species listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority List. This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Wigan Greenheart.

One of the main targets of the project is to boost the numbers of breeding birds that use the site, and there have been successes with grassland waders like redshanks, oystercatchers and lapwing all raising chicks, while other species such as snipe were spotted to provide further encouragement.

The work being done to continue to improve Lightshaw Meadows as a habitat for breeding birds has seen longhorn cattle brought onto the site. This rare breed grazes the fields to develop the ideal grassland texture for breeding birds, and actually likes to wade around in shallow water to find the succulent grasses found in these locations.

Recent land restoration works have raised the water table within the pastures so that the land is softer for the wading birds to probe and look for worms and other invertebrates. This work also benefits the flora of the site and has contributed to another of the targets, reverting it back to flower-rich meadows.

Work towards that target has been so successful that Natural England have improved the status of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) area of Lightshaw Meadows to ‘Recovering’. The meadows now have a range of interesting flowering species that are very typical of a damp riverside meadow, many species appearing from the seedbank to bloom as the fields become wetter.

Mark Champion, Wigan Projects Manager from Lancashire Wildlife Trust said: “We’re delighted to see these results from the work that has been done so far, it shows that sites like Lightshaw Meadows can be brought back into a healthy state for wildlife, if they are looked after in the right way.”

To find out more about Lightshaw Meadows visit www.lightshawmeadows.org.uk

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