An innovative project to restore native creatures to the mosslands around Salford, Wigan and Warrington has begun.
The Manchester Argus has been extinct around Salford and Manchester for more than 150 years – it is a species that declined because its environment changed with the encroachment of agriculture and industry.
The Manchester Argus was a victim of a 97% decline in Manchester’s mosslands. This lowland raised mire has been fragmented and keys species have been missing because of development, drainage, peat extraction, and fragmentation.
First discovered on Chat Moss, these species are unlikely to recolonise naturally, so it deserves its place back in Manchester.
This reintroduction project focuses on three isolated sites in the Manchester Mosslands SAC and is on a landscape scale.
The project will deliver sustainable reintroductions of key species historically found on the mosslands, including plants and butterflies that are reliant on the habitat and are found nowhere else.
Oblong-leaved sun-dew and white-beaked sedge, that would have thrived on the historic expanses of lowland raised bog, will be planted.
Along with a programme of re-wetting, the plant introductions provide a strong base from which species, like the Manchester Argus, can be reintroduced.
While varieties of plants like sphagnum moss and cotton grass have returned without much encouragement, they still need some help from the Wildlife Trust and its supporting partners.
The project is working within the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area and its aim is to run between five and 10 years.
It is a collaboration between The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, The Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, North West Rare Plant Initiative, Warrington Borough Council, Wigan Borough Council, Salford City Council, Manchester Metropolitan, University, Liverpool John Moores University, Chester Zoo, RSPB, and Butterfly Conservation,
This year, the project will start with work at Chester Zoo to rear and release the Manchester Argus within the Manchester mosslands area next year.