£50,00 appeal launched for wetland site

A £50,000 appeal has been launched today, Wednesday, June 13, to help restore an important wetland.

Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows is an internationally important winter stop-over for thousands of wildfowl and waders.

The Wildlife Trust has received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to buy and restore the area but the trust needs to raise £50,000 by the middle of August to turn it into the second largest nature reserve in Northamptonshire and bring back species that have disappeared such as lapwings and redshanks.

Heather Ball, of the trust, said: “It presents a wonderful opportunity for the local community to become involved and engaged, as well as an exciting and challenging opportunity in the centenary year of the Wildlife Trusts.”

There are 35 hectares of flood meadows, a rare and declining habitat in the UK, home to 17 different kinds of dragonfly and damselfly, while the presence of red lollipop-shaped flowers of great burnet show that some of the meadows here are ancient and unspoilt.

In summer a huge variety of birds go there to breed, including many which have declined in recent years, such as grasshopper warblers and cuckoos.

Grazed by cattle and sheep for hundreds of years, the meadows at Irthlingborough used to be a haven for wildflowers and nesting waders. A few precious ancient flood meadows survived, then gravel extraction started there in the 1970s. Since ending 10 years ago the area has been neglected – but many rare species still hang on and it has huge potential.

Unspoilt grasslands are rare, but floodplain meadows are even rarer – 80 per cent have vanished in recent years in the UK leaving only 1,600 hectares.

The trust has three other reserves nearby and the hopes are that eventually all the sites can be linked, providing cycle tracks, off-lead dog areas, and walking paths for all the community to enjoy.

For details visit www.justgiving.com/The-Wildlife-Trust-Irthlingborough-Appeal.