Location and Topography
The city of Manchester lies at the heart of Greater Manchester and runs from Higher Blackley in the north to Manchester Airport in the south, where it borders Cheshire. The lowest point in the city is just 23 m above sea level (asl), at Chorlton in the Mersey Valley, with the highest land 108 m asl at Charlestown.
It is amazing how quickly Brownfield sites, which have been cleared for development, are colonised by plants, insects and other wildlife. Often these are available to nature for only a short period of time before being redeveloped.
In contrast the Rochdale and Ashton canals provide long-established habitats. The Rivers Irwell, Mersey, Medlock and Irk all flow through the borough, providing an important corridor for wildlife to move through into the heart of the urban areas.
The south of the borough contains many ponds, especially along the Bollin valley.
Manchester has some important areas of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland, including Cotteril Clough SSSI which is the best wet woodland in Greater Manchester. Semi-natural grassland is also a key habitat within the borough, especially neutral grassland.
The many parks, including Heaton Park and Wythenshawe Park, provide green refuges, not only for the city's inhabitants, but also for numerous species of animals, plants and trees.
Despite being a mainly urban area, there is an incredible variety of spectacular wildlife to be found in the city of Manchester. Even in the heart of the city Peregrines and Black Redstarts, two of the rarest species of bird, make their homes, and bats can be seen at dusk flying over the canals and rivers.
The River Irwell, flowing through the city centre, acts as a corridor along which wildlife can pass. The Ashton and Rochdale canals are home to birds, fish and aquatic plants such as Floating Water Plantain, Grasswrack Pondweed and Freiberg’s screw-moss.
Along the Mersey Valley the former flood meadows still support a rich mixture of plant species including Orchids and Autumn Crocus. This is also an important area for birds, bats and even reptiles such as Grass-snake.