The much anticipated Back from the Brink project has finally started, and I am lucky enough to be a part of it! Rockingham Forest is going to be my stomping ground for the next four years, providing a large area of over 200 square miles for me to explore and discover. This wonderful lowland landscape contains a network of woodland sites, supporting a vast array of wildlife, from carpets of Bluebells and Wood Anemones, to rarities such as the Barbastelle Bat and Purple Emperor Butterfly.

Working closely with landowners, the project will be focusing on restoring and managing a network of woodlands to improve them for wildlife.  These sites are home to nationally rare species of plant, bat, bird, reptile and butterfly and our work aims to ensure their survival. Our fantastic conservation partners will be running workshops for land managers to advise them how to manage their woodlands for the benefit of a variety of species, as well as train volunteers in how to monitor them.  Another of our goals is to reintroduce the Chequered Skipper Butterfly to the landscape, bringing it back to England, where it became extinct in 1976.

As well as carrying out habitat management work in the priority woodlands, the project will be encouraging people to get involved and discover the wonderful woodland wildlife.  Through a programme of guided walks, talks and moth & bat nights, people will be able to learn all about the special species that can be found here. There will be lots of opportunities for people to join in with the work of the project, from helping to survey and monitor these rare species, to getting their hands dirty on some practical conservation work parties.

I can rarely leave my office in Fineshade forest without seeing the results of another reintroduction project - the magnificent Red Kite - so here’s hoping that the Chequered Skipper can be just as successful!

Susannah O'Riordan