A WILDLIFE conservation project based in Delamere Forest has been shortlisted for a national award.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Delamere Mossland Project is one of three finalists the Large-Scale Practical Nature Conservation category in the CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) Best Practice Awards.

Between 2013 and 2017 Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission restored 110 hectares of mossland habitat and began reintroducing the white-faced darter dragonfly, a species resident in the forest in years gone by.

Green hairstreak butterflies have been recorded and the presence of a nationally-rare spider, Sitticus floricola, locally known as the Delamere jumping spider, has also been confirmed.

Surveys have also revealed the presence of grass snakes and common lizards.

Adrienne Bennett, Forestry Commission Ecologist, welcomed the news.

She said: “The Delamere Mossland Project has given the meres and mosses restoration at Delamere Forest the boost it needed in order to make significant restoration gains.

“The recognition of the project at a national level is wonderful news.”

The mossland habitat work also provides wider environmental benefits.

Before restoration much of the peat on the sites was drying out causing it to break down and release carbon into the atmosphere.

Over 25.5 hectares of peat has now been rewetted, allowing it to store carbon once again and soak up rainwater.

“This project has become a large scale examplar of our landscape-scale approach to wetland conservation,” said Charlotte Harris, chief executive at Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

“Before this restoration project many sites were not delivering the ecosystem benefits they could.

"Scrub-clearance, rewetting and invasive species control has improved important habitat for wildlife and already we are seeing a difference in the species recorded at the sites.

"It is fantastic that this project has been short-listed for a Best Practice Award.”

The winner of the awards will be announced in June.