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Endangered species to benefit from £290,000 in funding awarded to a Shropshire conservation project

A National Trust-led project has been awarded nearly £290,000 in funding to continue its nature conservation work in the Shropshire Hills.

An otter pictured by John Hubble
An otter pictured by John Hubble

With more than 100 applications made across England, Natural England has awarded the grant to the Stepping Stones Project, which aims to restore patches of wildlife-friendly habitat between the Long Mynd and Stiperstones.

Natural England is driving action nationally, along with partner organisations, to promote the recovery of Britain’s most threatened species to reduce the risk of extinction.

A total of £14.5 million has been awarded to conservation projects across England with the aim of focusing on 150 threatened species.

Charlie Bell, project officer for Stepping Stones said: “We’re so pleased that the Stepping Stones bid for the funding has been successful.

“It means that we can continue our work with volunteers, local farmers and partnership organisations, to raise awareness of threatened species and undertake work that helps to protect them.

“Dormice are one of the key species we’re looking to help. They need habitat connectivity to survive but sadly, the isolation of broadleaved woodland, scrub and hedgerow habitats has led to a decline in this very cute little mammal.

“To remedy this our teams will be creating or restoring around 7500m of hedgerow. Volunteers will be helping us plant over 30,000 hedgerow trees on three farms.”

Four key species in the Stepping Stones project area will be supported using money from the grant. These species include otter, willow tit, small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly and dormouse.

Patches of habitat and wildlife corridors such as hedgerows, verges and streams are in decline in the Shropshire Hills, and the mammals, birds and insects that use them are under threat.

Other planned work includes building artificial otter dens called ‘holts’ in local streams, growing and planting out thousands of marsh violet plants which are the favourite food of small pearl-bordered fritillary caterpillars, creating wet woodland and installing nest boxes for willow tits.

To find out more about the project or to volunteer, email or visit Stepping Stones Project.

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