Britain's 20 most endangered species have been identified for the first time by a host of wildlife and woodland charities, as Natural England has launched a campaign to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Charities have been given over £7.7 million in funding from the National Lottery and other donors to work together to save the endangered animals and plants.

Since the ambitious project began a year ago, the charities have already managed to reintroduce of the Chequered Skipper butterfly to the Rockingham Forest area of Northamptonshire. It had been extinct in England since 1976.

Now, the various charities are working together for the first time to safeguard the rest of the animals on the list.

Willow Tits are also in grave peril, as the population has declined by 94 per cent since the 1970s. The sedentary birds do well in scrubland and are currently located in areas such as reclaimed coalfields.

Willow tit

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB aim to find out more about their preferred habitats and try to repopulate the North with Willow Tits.

Greg Gilmore, Willow Tit Project Volunteer, said he had enjoyed fitting the birds with radio tags, so their movements could be monitored.

He said: " It has been a privilege being involved on this project, getting out onto nature reserves, sitting quietly in one place you soon start realising how submersed in wildlife you are. I hope that the information and data gathered can be utilised to halt the decline of such a superb little bird."

Also targeted by the scheme is the Grey Long-Eared Bat, of which there are only 1,000 left.

The kind of grassland these bats need has been lost from most of our countryside in the last century, so the Back from the Brink team is working with landowners to discover how to retain and enhance the precious habitats that the bats need.

James Harding-Morris, Back from the Brink Communications Manager, told The Telegraph: "I wish I could tell you that the 20 species we are aiming to save from extinction were all now doing tremendously well, but conservation is a longer process than that.

The Chequered Skipper, for example, flew again in England in 2018, but this is only the first step on a journey to re-establishing it in the wild. Many of our species are so rare and obscure that we are still learning about them and developing techniques to save them.

"Conservation is not just about saving the individual members of a species, but also about changing the way that all of us relate to and manage our shared landscapes so that the future of our threatened species can be assured."

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