A New National Nature Reserve

The Flashes of Wigan and Leigh:

The coalfields of Wigan and Leigh fuelled the industrial revolution, and the landscape is shaped by extraction of coal and its associated transport infrastructure. In 2022, this area became the UK’s first post-industrial, urban National Nature Reserve. Community engagement was core to this success. The RoundView was key to a programme of combined visioning and skills development, delivered during 2020-2021.

The hands-on exercises of the RoundView were modified into an online exercises to engage with community members during the pandemic. This helped people to think bigger, beyond their patch, about how these activities can contribute to broader sustainability aims, such as climate change mitigation. Looking at the RoundView as part of the engagement led to discussions about the possibilities for sustainability in the area, and the potential to use increased awareness of the ecological richness of the Flashes of Wigan and Leigh as a catalyst for change.

The way I want to see Wigan and Leigh’s future is: more accessible places for communities, sustainable buildings, more wildlife and less carbon emissions in the environment and lots of diversity, heritage, accommodation and thousands of destinations to visit.” Youth participant in RoundView workshops