Return to Nature

Not all was destroyed, however, and during the twentieth century a National Nature Reserve (Ribble Marshes) and a RSPB nature reserve (Marshside) were establised on the southern shore of the estuary and, inland two wetland nature reserves were developed on land that was once part of the original Martin Mere Lake.

Martin Mere Wetland Centre is the largest at over 500 acres and is owned by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust.  The reserve comprises reed beds, wet pasture, wet meadow, duck marsh and open water as well as themed landscaped areas which are home to 100 species of rare and endangered ducks, geese, swans, flamingoes and beavers.  The first area of land for the reserve was purchased in 1972 by which time part of it was already a refuge for hundreds of Pink-footed Geese during the winter months.  In 2003 more agricultural land was purchased and new wetland habitats created in addition to hedgerows, woodlands and new public access. 

Mere Sands Wood nature reserve is owned by The Wildlife Trust and was developed after sand extraction works were completed in the early 1980s.  The site had previously been planted by Lord Hesketh and the best woodlands were protected during extraction to save as much of the wildlife as possible.  The reserve covers 42 hectares (105 acres) and is made up of shallow edged lakes, mature broadleaved and conifer woodland, sandy, wet meadows and heaths.

The latest "wetland" development by The Wildlife Trust is the new Brockholes Wetlands and Woodland nature reserve, a 106 hectare site, to the east of Preston.  Set in the bend of the tidal River this former sand and gravel quarry started to attract bird interest when the first pools appeared as part of restoration work in late 1990's.  Since its purchase in 2006, works have been carried out to modify some of the original landscaping including the restoration of the wetlands, creation of ponds, seeding of meadows, planting new hedgerows and trees and creation of visitor access.  The site is due to open to the public in 2011 when its iconic visitor centre will be completed. 

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