Ambitious project for 'insect superhighways' which cross Wigan unveiled

Buglife has announced its national plan to help pollinating insects, whose numbers have crashed disastrously in recent decades, by creating B-Lines.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd April 2021, 12:46 pm

The aim is to create a massive network of landscapes which will allow bees, butterflies and other invertebrates to move freely between the existing areas which are rich in the wildflowers they need.

And the plan, which has received a positive reception from local conservationists, has a role for Wigan to play.

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The B-Lines aim to join up wildflower-rich areas. Photo: Claire Pumfrey (Buglife)

There it meets a second pathways which takes in large parts of Leigh, including Pennington Flash.

Buglife says the idea is to create stepping stones between nature reserves and other sites for wildlife, saying these are now too often isolated islands which animals cannot leave and which makes both them and the nature havens vulnerable.

The organisation celebrated the work that has already been done across the country while green groups in the borough responded with excitement to the ambitious plan for insect superhighways and expressed an interest in creating more wildflower areas in the borough as part of the scheme.

Buglife’s Jamie Robins said: “It is fantastic to be able to launch our B-Lines map. Hundreds of people have come together to create this plan to help our pollinators.

Give It A Grow Wigan co-founder Victoria Finch

“But this is not just about a map, we are also celebrating the creation of over 1,500 hectares of wildflower habitat along the B-lines, delivered by a great number of organisations and individuals all working together for a shared endeavour.

"Whether you are a farmer, forester, local community group or business you can help to reconnect our landscape.

“Visit our website to find out how you can add to our B-Lines network.”

The map shows where local projects along the corridors are already under way to create more insect-friendly habitats, although so far none have been added in Wigan borough.

Buglife wants to work with partners to create thousands more hectares of habitat which is good for wildlife, including grassland and heathland.

Habitat loss and fragmentation has played a massive role in the declining fortunes of insects and other animals, with conservationists now keen to make the places where wildlife still thrives bigger, better and joined-up.

The B-Lines were created by looking at a mountain data on where the best places for wildflowers remaining in the country were and then drawing up pathways which could connect as many of them as possible.

More than 750 people across the country have worked on or submitted information to the map, which has taken some 10 years to draw up.

Nature enthusiasts in the borough have also realised the importance of creating more habitat for bees, butterflies and other insects which carry out pollinating roles.

Sowing wildflowers and creating floral meadows and areas of longer grass for wildlife, particularly in urban areas, is one of the aims of recently-established group Give It A Grow Wigan.

The organisation is delighted by the ambition of the B-Lines project and Wigan’s inclusion in the network and is keen to get involved.

Co-founder Victoria Finch, from Springfield, said: “I think this is a really good initiative. I like the fact that all the local boroughs are working together rather than as independent groups.

“This is a nationwide problem and hopefully this will make a real difference.

“I’m interested to see the pathways run right through the heart of Wigan, including all the Flashes but also some of the urban areas.

“I also wonder how the plans to build a lot in Leigh will affect this.

“The more data and information we can get on this and the more co-operation we have the better.

“I’m hoping we can get in touch and see what we can do to support this.”

For more information on the B-Lines network visit www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/

Find out more about Give It A Grow Wigan at giveitagrowwigan.co.uk

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