Project update: Rostherne Mere wetlands… one year on.

It’s been just over a year since we created the wetlands at Rostherne Mere.

Since then, the site has transformed from an over-grazed field through to a fully functioning wetland thriving with wildlife. Plant life has flourished, with a variety of plants naturally colonising the wetlands and reintroductions of Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids (through re-establishment of wildflower seed banks) contributing to increases in floral diversity.

Similarly, a range of fauna have been observed using the new habitat, with several species returning to the site or occurring in greater numbers; most notably greater wetland bird abundances and increases in Odonata (dragonflies/damselflies) and Lepidoptera (butterflies/moths; including the Large Heath, an endangered wetland specialist) species richness.

Differences in water clarity between the pools also suggests that the wetlands are helping to improve water quality, with discoloured pools indicating that water being stored contains pollutants which vegetation can filter out before the water flows into Rostherne Mere.

Whilst a year isn’t a long time in ecological terms, its fantastic to see that the wetlands are already achieving multiple environmental benefits and helping to improve the condition of this site.

We are very proud of what has been achieved around Rostherne Mere and have been taking every opportunity to publicise this great work. Last year, 50 Year One and Year Two pupils from Terra Nova school were welcomed onsite by Natural England’s National Nature Reserve (NNR) engagement adviser, Jenni Tibbets, and reserve manager, Rupert Randall. This visit gave the children a chance to learn about modern conservation management and the species inhabiting the reserve. Jenni and Rupert’s knowledge was also put to the test by the pupils, with lots of inquisitive questions being asked throughout the visit. After such a long period of no public engagement or nature learning on NNR’s, it was a pleasure to see happy enthusiastic faces, back on the reserve and learning about the local environment!

The team have also been very busy organising site visits for various partners of the programme, including members of United Utilities and Natural England’s National Operations Team.  Natural Course also recently hosted members of the HS2 steering group on site, allowing members to learn about the site and discuss the best strategies that could be utilised to help protect Rostherne Mere and the surrounding environment following installation of the Crew to Manchester route.

Additionally to taking people on site, the Natural Course team in collaboration with Creative Concern have filmed a short video using the wetlands at Rostherne Mere (and the complimentary leaky dams) as an example for how Natural Course has been contributing to decreasing diffuse water pollution across the Northwest of England. This video is part of a series being release by Natural Course later in the year, so keep your eyes peeled for these.

We have been so privileged to witness the changes and benefits that the wetland creation at Rostherne Mere have delivered over the past year, from increases in biodiversity and improved water quality through to educating local children on their natural environment. We can’t wait to see how the wetlands continue to develop and look forward to many more people engaging with this work in the future.

This project was part of the wider ‘Catchment Operation (opens new tab)‘ Phase 3 project .