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Our UK wildlife faces constant threats, with habitats eroded and destroyed at a rapid rate. There are few habitats where this is more critical than British uplands, such as Smithills.
Within the Smithills Estate is a classic example of an upland ecosystem which has fallen into serious decline through exploitation, damage and neglect.
Decades of inappropriate management and exploitation have led to a steady erosion of the site’s biodiversity. The estate has always been rich in wildlife, but beloved species such as the brown hare, lapwing and common lizard are all falling in numbers.
Despite this, since we started managing the site in 2015 we have catalogued over 900 species of animal, plant and fungi living or visiting the estate. This already impressive biodiversity is a great indication of what is possible with the right management.
By observing this wildlife, there are several ecological gaps and oddities we would like to explore:
- One hundred years of inappropriate drainage has dried out the blanket bog
- Twite have not been seen since on the site the 1990s
- Breeding spots for the endangered lapwing have plummeted from 25 to 10 in the last 15 years
- The brown hare is in decline and has not been recorded since 2015
- Every British owl species was once found at Smithills, but the little owl has not been observed for several years
- The have been numerous ‘adder bites’ in the area over the last decade, but no actual records of adders – do they still live on the estate?
Now nature needs a helping hand
Now that all of Smithills is under our protection, we can ensure the land is managed appropriately and sensitively, creating a mosaic of habitats to allow wildlife to thrive once more.
We’ll more than double the native woodland at the estate by planting in ravines, converting non-native conifer woodland and scattering trees and copses across the slopes.
By sensitively boosting native woodland we’ll be enhancing the landscape and transforming the wildlife value of Smithills.