£1.2m investment to boost Medlock Valley biodiversity in flagship project for Oldham

Jun 14, 2024 | Natural Environment

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Oldham council has received a £1.2 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Species Survival Fund for a project which will help bring nature back to urban environments in the Medlock Valley.

It will work alongside partners including Manchester and Tameside councils, Groundwork Greater Manchester, Canal & Rivers Trust, City of Trees and Mersey Rivers Trust to enhance habitats at seven sites across the Medlock Valley, covering almost 30 hectares.

Many species of wildlife and plants can be found in the Medlock Valley including those identified in the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Action plan.

The project’s focus is to halt and reverse the decline in species abundance by preserving and restoring vital habitats. It will deliver a number of habitat improvements including planting of approximately 5,000 trees, invasive non-native species management and control and restoration work across the Ashton and Rochdale canal network.

These habitats will become home to species including water voles, waxcap mushrooms and the great crested newt.

Manchester has three main river valleys; the Irk in the north, the Medlock in the centre and the Mersey in the south. The Medlock rises in the hills above Oldham and empties into the River Irwell in central Manchester. It runs through the heart of industrial east Manchester, through Clayton Vale, Philips Park, SportsCity, Holt Town, through the city centre to join the Irwell at Castlefield.

The Industrial Revolution exacted a heavy toll on the river, with factories and waste tips lining its banks. Restoration of the river and its landscape has seen an improvement in water quality and the return of fish and other wildlife.

Project partners will coordinate a number of community events and activities which help connect local people with nature, focusing primarily on unemployed people and those experiencing poor health and wellbeing.

The project will create six new green job roles and includes complimentary training programmes leading to an upskilled workforce more able to respond to the climate emergency.

Ginny Hinton of Natural England saysNatural England is really proud to support the Species Survival project in the Medlock Valley. It will be a flagship project for how we can bring nature back to urban environments.”

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