Bolton's Smithills estate to be protected with £8.5m scheme

Smithills estate
Image caption Smithills is a "mosaic of habitats" including farmland, woods and moorland

An £8.5m conservation scheme to protect threatened upland habitat has been set up by the Woodland Trust.

The trust is buying the 1,700 acre (690 hectare) Smithills estate, on Winter Hill near Bolton, from the council.

It hopes to protect wildlife, increase access to the countryside and demonstrate how uplands can be managed sustainably.

The estate was the site of a mass trespass in 1896 when 10,000 people demanded rights to access the land.

It has historically supported industries, ranging from farming to shooting and coal mining, but is in decline as a result of under-investment, the trust said.

Smithills is a "mosaic of habitats", with farmland, woods and streams stretching up the valley to moorland, project lead Mark Gordon said.

The trust hopes to double the tree cover on the estate over five years, with oak and lime in lower areas and birch and rowan on the higher ground, and increasing woodland up the cloughs or gullies which streams run down.

It is hoped the work will boost species such as brown hares, lapwings and peregrine falcons.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Woodland Trust hopes to protect wildlife on the estate

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