Wallington estate near Morpeth key to Vincent Wildlife Trust project to bring pine martens back to Northumberland
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Vincent Wildlife Trust, a mammal conservation charity, has been awarded nearly £1.2m by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for its four-year Martens on the Move project, one of the goals of which is to bring the creatures back to Northumberland.
The funds will be used to improve pine marten habitats, recruit and train volunteers to monitor pine martens, and educate local communities about the species and its conservation, including at Wallington.
Paul Hewitt, countryside manager at the 5,300 hectare estate, said: “This critically endangered animal has been lost from swathes of our countryside for so long, so it is fantastic news that this project has been awarded funding to both raise the profile of the pine marten and work towards its recovery across the country.
“We are delighted that Wallington has been selected as the haven site for England.
“This work forms part of the Wilder Wallington project, which is helping nature recovery at a landscape scale, and we are really looking forward to more people being able to experience the excitement of seeing this beautiful native species in our woods here at Wallington again.”
Pine martens were once widespread in Britain but by the start of the 20th century they were almost lost forever.
The mammals live in woodland habitats and eat small rodents, birds, eggs, insects, and fruit. They are excellent climbers and typically live in trees.
Conservation work has helped their population recover in Scotland but they remain critically endangered in England and Wales, although Vincent Wildlife Trust work has begun to repeat the successes seen in Scotland.
Martens on the Move is hoping to strengthen their presence in Northumberland, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders, as well as along the border of England and Wales.
Robyn Llewellyn from The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “At this pivotal moment for pine marten conservation, I am delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund continues to support The Vincent Wildlife Trust.
“It is inspiring to see the trust working alongside partners and communities, enhancing public awareness, habitat resources, and population data collection, made possible thanks to National Lottery players.”