Take a good long look at these photographs. The real thing is all around us – but for how much longer?
A species’ survival depends on the preservation of habitat – and with much of that habitat under threat locally, time is running out.
A charity which plays a crucial frontline role in conservation is on the endangered list itself right now – and appealing to Fylde coast supporters and others interested to help.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside has been dealt a triple whammy – Government cuts in the charity sector, a VAT rise imposed on charities and corporate funding losses.
The crunch comes just as the trust celebrates half a century of helping others.
So now it’s turned its 50th anniversary party into a plea for £50 donations from local businesses and other supporters.
Chief executive Anne Selby warns the clock is ticking for some of the species safeguarded.
She explains: “The Wildlife Trust has been dealt a series of blows over the past 12 months, but we are determined to continue our work in protecting our region’s vital habitats and the wildlife within.
“Now is the time to stand up and fight back, and we are asking for a helping hand to do this. We hope people will support our work with nature on their own doorsteps.”
“We have a wonderfully diverse range of habitats, some of them – our mosslands for instance – are key on a global scale, and we must do all we can to protect it today and for future generations.”
It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow.
On average, anyone travelling five miles in the region will pass at least one project owned or which has been managed or supported by the Wildlife Trust.
The trust is involved in key projects across the Fylde, including vital work on the Lancashire sand dunes – 80 per cent of which have been lost in the past 150 years.
Anne adds: “Sand dunes are a crucial habitat, not only as a natural flood defence, but they are also home to internationally rare plant species, breeding birds along with 150 different species of butterflies and moths.”
Our pictures show some of the treasures to be found there – an internationally rare Isle of Man cabbage that few would give a second glance... and a Six Spot Burnet Moth which, unlike most other moths, can be seen in daytime on the dunes.
The appeal comes as the Wildlife Trust enters its 50th anniversary year.
Anne says: “From purchasing our first nature reserve at South Walney Island, we have come a long way.
“The Wildlife Trust is now the leading and most influential organisation for conservation in the North West.
“But we cannot rest on our laurels, our past is important, but we must focus on the future of wildlife in our region”.
Core Wildlife Trust work involves conservation of nature through its nature reserves and improvements to habitat throughout the three counties.
Lancashire, rich in bird life as well as wildlife and moss and dune land, is considered a rich natural resource.
Part of the challenge is to encourage more youngsters to get involved – mirroring the work already done locally at Wyre thanks to a particularly proactive ranger scheme.
All wildlife and conservation projects rely heavily on volunteers to make up the manning hours shortfall which funding cutbacks have created. It provides protection for endangered species, owns and manages nature reserves, educates and inspires children to carry on the work, offers opportunities for people to volunteer in worthwhile conservation projects and campaigns at every level of Government.
The trust isn’t alone in its struggle right now but clearly the message is getting out – membership passed the 22,000 mark for the first time in its history in July.
It also has more than 1,000 volunteers including recruits from Blackpool and the Fylde and is out to reach more.
The education team already reaches more than 30,000 children every year.
The newest nature reserve is at Brockholes, Samlesbury, just off junction 31 of the M6.
For 10 years, the trust has worked to secure the site and turn what was once a major quarry into regenerated habitat for lapwing, whimbrel, little ringed plover, reed bunting and other bird and wildlife. Two hundred volunteers now operate and maintain the wetlands reserve and visitor village.
n For more info visit www.lancswt.org.uk.