Location and Topography
|Leeds to Liverpool Canal|
Wigan is the most westerly of the Greater Manchester districts, bordering on Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire. It is a relatively low-lying area with most of the land less than 100 metres above sea level.
Many of the wildlife sites in Wigan have developed as a result of past industrial activity. Subsidence from former coal mines has led to the creation of large areas of open water, known locally as flashes, which support extensive reedbeds and the specialist wildlife which lives there.
Water is the common theme that links many of the sites from the Wigan Flashes to the canals and numerous ponds. In the south of the borough there are important mossland remnants that are of national importance such as Astley Moss SSSI, part of the Manchester Mosses SAC (Special Area of Conservation).
Wigan has the second highest proportion of semi-natural broadleaved woodland of any GM district, much of which is ancient.
Other important habitats include dense scrub, semi-natural grassland, heathland, and swamp.
Such a diverse range of habitats supports many UK Biodiversity Priority species including Great Crested Newt, Brown Hare, one of the largest remaining populations of Water Vole in Greater Manchester, 8 species of bat, and the reedbed specialist the Bittern. Wigan is also a stronghold for farmland birds such as Barn Owl, Grey Partridge Skylark, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer.
Species of conservation concern which occur in the borough include Roe Deer, Hedgehog, Badger, Water Shrew, 5 species of amphibian, slow-worm, grass snake and Common Lizard. Many species of damselfly and dragonfly are found in the wetland habitats including Banded demoiselle, Broad-bodied Chaser and the magnificent Emperor, our largest Dragonfly.