A South Cumbria prison has become host to a special tree nursery where inmates approaching the end of their sentences are helping to restore endangered fauna and flora.

HMP Haverigg is playing a key role in the Back on our Map (BOOM) mission to encourage communities to get involved in a far-reaching four-year reintroduction programme for 10 threatened species.

University of Cumbria are leading the project with Morecambe Bay Partnership spearheading community action.

The project is backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

BOOM’s community lead for aspen trees, Ellie Kent, explained while most of the public participation work had been shelved during COVID-19, the prison environment offered excellent opportunities for planting.

She said: “We will be working with the men to grow saplings on a new prison woodland site. Aspen are very important as no other British tree supports more biodiversity. They provide habitat for rare and nationally significant flies, moths, beetles, fungi, lichens and mosses.

“Once common across Cumbria, land use changes and increasing grazing have left only a few isolated strands. With their extensive root systems, they bind soil together, slowing water and reducing flooding.

“It will be great to see the branching out of these beautiful trees at Haverigg. They should do well as they are salt tolerant and can grow successfully on coastlines. Also, they’ll be off limits to deer - who like to nibble them - and have contributed to the serious decline.”

This story first appeared in The Mail.

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