The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust(YWT) has announced that it has been awarded over £280,000 to fund the protection of three threatened species native to the region. In 2023,Natural England launched the Species Recovery Programme to provide financial support for projects aiming to halt or reduce the decline of threatened species in England. The programme will support local authorities, wildlife organisations and environmental charities in their projects across the country, in line with the UK Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan. The funding received by the YWT will support three conservation projects: Dragons in the Dales, the Lady’s Slipper Recovery Programme and Claws for Thought. In a recent announcement from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Deputy Chief Executive remarked on Yorkshire’s importance in supporting nature, with the county supporting “two thirds of British flora... and around 70 percent of British breeding bird species.” The funded projects will thus aim to “protect and restore” three threatened species that are following the nationwide trend of biodiversity loss.
The UK’s orchids are also in decline, with Lady’s Slipper flower believed to have gone extinct in the UK by the end of the 19th century following habitat degradation and over-picking. However, a chance discovery of a wild Lady’s Slipper in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s has allowed scientists at Kew Gardens to propagate new orchids from the wild remaining flower. The Lady’s Slipper Recovery Programme is a coordinated effort between the YWT, Kew Gardens Plant Life and the National Trust aiming to save Lady’s Slipper orchids “from the brink of extinction.” With seedling plants now successfully grown, the programme is identifying new and historic habitat sites for orchid transplanting to occur. Although many of the orchid sites are being kept secret, this threatened flower species can be visited at Kilnseyand Malham Tarn in North Yorkshire. The Dragons in the Dales project is aiming to restore the White-faced Darter in Yorkshire, where populations are now extinct. The White-faced Darter is a small dragonfly species that is facing extinction due to the conversion of peatland and bog pools for agricultural development throughout the UK. However, a recent project led by the YWT, named the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, has restored nearly 43,000 hectares of peatland which have begun to attract dragonflies and damselflies back. Consequently, the Dragons in the Dales project will seek to survey the restored peatland and bogland in the Yorkshire Dales which will later become sites of White-faced Darter release.
The final project to be awarded funding is the Claws For Thought partnership with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers trust, Flamingo Land, and members of the North Yorkshire Crayfish Forum. The Claws For Thought Project aims to create new protected habitats for the White-clawed Crayfish, which is threatened by ‘crayfish plague’, carried by the invasive North American Signal Crayfish. The YWT describes North Yorkshire as “a stronghold for White-clawed Crayfish” and depicts so-called ‘Ark sites’ that will act as refuge sites for the threatened species.
The funding of these local projects is a significant success for the YWT following a competitive application round, and highlights the charity’s importance in wildlife protection across the region