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Rare orchid returns to a secret location

Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is becoming concerned about the number of wildflowers, particularly orchids, being dug up and removed from its reserves along Druridge Bay in recent months.

Orchids in particular are expensive to buy in garden centres, so the Northern Marsh, Bee and Common Spotted varieties on its Hauxley and East Chevington reserves are being targeted by members of the pubic who are digging them up and taking them home.

This news comes just days after support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled the wildlife charity to bring the green-winged orchid (Anacamptis morio) back to Druridge Bay following an absence of over 50 years. Unfortunately, however, due to the increase in thefts from its reserves, the Trust cannot reveal its exact whereabouts.

Support from the charity lottery enabled the Trust to work with the National Trust in Morecambe Bay who provided the seed, and the Hardy Orchid Society whose conservation officer, Bill Temple, provided the orchid expertise and organised volunteers to grow the plants in their own homes for three years.

The grassland plant, that gets its name from the green veins in the ‘hood’ of its flowers, would have been a familiar sight in hay meadows and dune slacks around Druridge Bay in days gone by, however, the increasing demand for food production after World War II and the destruction of dune habitats through recreational use, resulted in a gradual decline until it completely disappeared from the county in the 1970’s.

Having worked hard to create and improve the habitat on the selected reserve in recent years, the wildlife charity believes the time is right for the orchid’s reintroduction, especially as the regions popular spotted and marsh orchids, are now threatened, not only by thefts, but by a new disease which has begun wiping out entire populations around the country.

Speaking about the project, Geoff Dobbins, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Estate’s Manager says: says: “This is one of the more unusual, but worthwhile, projects, which, if it weren’t for People’s Postcode Lottery players, may have been put on the ‘back burner’ until alternative funding became available.

“However, its return is tinged with caution as it comes at a time when volunteers patrolling our reserves are finding more and more holes in the ground where plants used to be - removed by members of the public.

“Coming just weeks after vandals torched our pond dipping platform and boardwalk at our East Chevington reserve, such theft is very disheartening to our teams of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure all the reserves across the Bay are in pristine condition for everybody’s enjoyment.”

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