Trust receives £222k to fight decline of dale's rare plants
A TRUST dedicated to preserving upper Teesdale’s rare plants has been awarded £222,400.
The cash, from the Government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund, will enable the Teesdale Special Flora Research and Conservation Trust to extend its work to survey and protect rare arctic-alpine species such as the iconic blue spring gentian during 2022-23.
The trust was set up by dale botanist Dr Margaret Bradshaw whose recent work revealed the “truly shocking” decline of rare species.
Dr Bradshaw said: “We’ve called our programme Plants on the Edge. Of the 19 rare species in the ‘Teesdale assemblage’, 18 showed a reduction in their extent, equating to an overall 54 per cent average decline.
“Teesdale has the highest concentration of rare higher plant species in a small area – more than 100 in the river Tees catchment, with a core of 21 where north meets south.
“Plants such as (Dryas) mountain avens, a woody plant that was widespread in Britain 15-10,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age, is still present on Cronkley Fell today.
“Just imagine those plants, together with hoary rockrose, spring gentian and Teesdale violet on Widdybank Fell, being direct descendants of the late glacial flora.”
Dr Bradshaw formed the Teesdale Special Flora Research and Conservation Trust in 2017 in order to support research in to, conservation of, and public engagement with, Teesdale’s rare plants.
The trust was initially funded entirely by Dr Bradshaw, who raised cash through a number of money raising challenges.
The trust’s main work has been a detailed survey of Widdybank Fell, documenting the catastrophic decline in the arctic alpine plant communities there since the 1970s.
Teesdale Special Flora became a charity in early 2020 in order to help fundraising and has received backing from public donations, Natural England and the Wild Flower Society, however, Dr Bradshaw remains its largest single donor.
As a result of the grant, the trust will work with the charity Northern Heartlands and the North Pennines AONB Partnership with support from the Raby and Strathmore estates.
In addition to ongoing research, the Plants on the Edge project will also encourage the public to learn about the dale’s botanical heritage, overseen by a new community involvement worker.
The grant will also include support for activities, materials and equipment for the long-running Upper Teesdale Botany Group, which teaches people botanical survey skills.
Dr Bradshaw added: “I’m absolutely delighted that we will be receiving this grant.
“It’s going to help us to take the first steps to reverse the catastrophic decline in the rare flora of Teesdale.
“This flora is very special – it is worthy of treasuring and protecting.”
Jill Cole, director of Northern Heartlands said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Teesdale Special Flora Trust on this important project.
“The engagement element of the project will ensure that we can make even more people aware of what a valuable and unusual asset we have here on our doorstep in Teesdale.”
The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a key part of the Government’s plan to kick-start nature recovery and tackle climate change.
Plants on the Edge was one of 90 nature projects across England to receive grants from the fund.
Work will be carried out on more than 600 sites from North Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall.