A NEW breed of eco-heroes have begun working to transform one of Wigan’s newest nature reserves.
Far quieter and more appealing than lawn mowers, longhorn cattle have been brought in to keep grass growth down at Lightshaw Meadows near Golborne.
Shaped by Wigan’s industrial past, the area has been identified as an ideal breeding ground for all manner of flora and fauna.
And over the next three years, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Red Rose Forest will work to restore it for the benefit of key habitats and species named on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority List.
The longhorns, which are on loan to the trust from their neighbours in Cheshire, have previously been employed at Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston.
They will be used to graze an area in order to make it more suitable habitat for bird species such as redshank, lapwing and snipe.
This is called “conservation grazing,” where animals are strategically used to graze sections of reserves, either to manage the landscape or to help transform it.
Experts say conservation grazing is less intensive than commercial grazing and helps to maintain and restore habitats. It also helps to reduce less favourable plants, allowing seed regeneration, creating bare areas and varied expanses of short grass.
The work comes as part of a series of restoration works at Lightshaw Meadows that are currently taking place.
The restoration activity will involve survey and monitoring of species, boundary work, the realignment and re-wetting of existing wet grassland areas and ditch network and habitat establishment.
Mark Champion, from Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re really pleased to have this traditional heritage breed of cattle come on site to help us improve the habitat at Lightshaw Meadows.
“They’re tougher and more resilient than more common breeds and their use in this kind of work helps promote their conservation, as well as doing a fantastic job in making this site the best it can be for the wildlife we’re aiming to attract.”
The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Wigan Greenheart.
To find out more about Lightshaw Meadows visit www.lightshawmeadows.org.uk