Charity set to add to its portfolio of nature reserves

The county’s largest nature conservation charity is to grow again, with plans to add a well known beauty spot near Leek to its portfolio of nature reserves.

Sitting at the top of Gun Hill, Gun Moor is a 194 acre moorland site that is home to several species of endangered birds and was a high priority for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust to protect when it came up for sale last year.

The charity, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year is already custodian of 30 nature reserves across the county including the iconic Roaches.

With a price tag of over £150,000 the Trust could not afford to buy the land outright and has entered into a special "buy back" arrangement which gives 18 months of breathing space to fundraise.

James Dennison, Head of Fundraising for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust explained.  "When Gun Moor came onto the market we needed to move fast to secure its future.  The Esmee Fairbairn foundation is one of the UK's largest independent grant makers and they were able to step in an buy the land on our behalf through a "buy back" arrangement.  We now have until Autumn 2020 to raise the funds needed to buy it back from them at the same price they paid.

"We've set up a local fundraising group and we're working on bids to bring in the cash needed to complete the purchase, but we have a long way to go and would love it if people could help us by making a donation or arranging their own fundraising events.”

From open moorland to woodland, Gun Moor, near Leek, has sweeping views towards Tittesworth Reservoir and the Trust’s iconic Roaches nature reserve.

Visitors to Gun Moor can expect to see special bird species such as lesser redpoll and see and hear the wonderful sound of cuckoos in springtime as well as the iconic bird of the moors, red grouse. Evening visitors to the reserve may also be lucky enough to see the often elusive woodcock, especially during its territorial display flight, known as roding.

Jeff Sim, Senior Conservation Manager for the charity, said: “Gun Moor is a stunning site which we’re delighted to add to our stable of nature reserves.

“As well as the special wildlife which lives there, visitors should also be able to see flowering cotton-grass and bog asphodel in the wet heath areas in June and July.

“The spring and summer are good months for bird and plant spotting at Gun Moor.

“It is a site close to our Roaches, Black Brook and Knotbury Common nature reserves, which allows us to manage the sites in a much more joined up way.

Individual donations to the Gun Moor appeal can be made via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gun-moor  

This year is a very special year for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, marking 50 years since the charity was formed in 1969. To celebrate, the Trust has plenty planned to mark the occasion. Visit www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/50yearswild to find out more.