A PROJECT is being launched to protect rare medicinal leeches on land in Lowick - which is part of a £30 million Wildlife Trust scheme.

Trust's across the UK are launching a '30 by 30' project, a public appeal to raise £30 million to start putting nature into recovery across at least 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is aiming to protect a 106ha site at Lowick Common near Ulverston, that is home to rare creatures that are only seen in a handful of places across the county.

The trust's chief executive Stephen Trotter said: "Two years ago we took on the care and restoration of a large piece of land at Lowick.

"It’s very special because of the lowland heath, acid grassland and fen areas found here – they’re all rare, both in Cumbria and nationally, having declined in the last century.

"They provide important habitats for specialist species, including small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly and reptiles such as slow worms and adders.

"The ponds are home to the medicinal leech - one of the few places in Cumbria you can find these water-based, blood-sucking animals – as well as great-crested newts and 15 species of dragonfly and damselflies.

"We’ll be monitoring and surveying these species, to see the results of the management work that we carry out here. The site was dominated by bracken, which was shading out plants and birds, and invasive plants were covering paths, impeding visitor access. Working with local volunteers, we’ll tackle these problems, to ensure that the site remains a wildlife haven for these specialist species."

You can donate to help the new project by going to wildlifetrusts.org/30-30-30