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GRANT AWARDED TO ESTABLISH CURRAGH NATURE TRAIL

A charity established to support conservation at Curraghs Wildlife Park has been awarded a grant of more than £8,500 by Manx Lottery Trust.

Supporters of Curraghs Wildlife Park (SCWP) applied for the sum to develop the Curragh Nature Trail, a project which will help Wildlife Park visitors understand and appreciate the environmental importance of the area.

The Wildlife Park includes a section of the Ballaugh Curragh Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), designated under Manx legislation and it is also a Wetland of International Importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention.

The project, costing almost £12,500, follows an accessible path and section of boardwalk through Curragh habitat which includes wet places with willows and Spagnum moss plus many other plants adapted to life in a wetland. 

The grant will fund interpretive signage explaining aspects of the area, with child friendly images and text, plus suggestions for related activities. One of the more expensive items listed in the application is a solar powered ‘talking bench’. Visitors can choose to listen to bird songs, a Curragh wildlife inspired poem, a farmer recalling how the land was used many years ago and information about wallabies.

In keeping with SCWP’s desire to make the Trail interactive, there will be panels where children can lift flaps and turn handles to reveal information about wildlife. Visitors can borrow ‘Explorer Bags’ containing ideas for activities plus equipment to carry them out including a magnifying lens, binoculars and wildlife identity tick list. Specially commissioned brass plaques featuring Curragh wildlife can be found along the Trail with brass rubbing materials available at the Wildlife Park.

Kim Etherton from SCWP commented: ‘In addition to the generous grant awarded by Manx Lottery Trust, we are also grateful to Zurich International for providing some matched funding and to their staff who helped improve the path. We hope that visitors will really enjoy discovering this very special part of our biosphere and we look forward to opening the Curragh Nature Trail next May.  

‘We will be actively engaging with local charities that have service users who could benefit from the interactive and accessible features of the Trail, and we hope it will encourage more people to get out and explore the area.’

Chairman of Manx Lottery Trust, Sarah Kelly, said: ‘We all know how special and unique the Isle of Man is and we’re pleased to be able to support this project, which will bring to life the importance of this particular area of Ballaugh Curragh. A great deal of thought has been given to making the Trail interesting and engaging to people of all ages, and the attention given to providing sounds and things to touch, also makes it suitable for those with disabilities.’

This grant was from the Manx Lottery Trust’s Island Community Fund Programme. Information on current funding programmes and application forms can be found at www.mlt.org.im/grant-programme

 

The SCWP committee with some of the interpretative signs especially designed for young visitors

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