European Rewilding Network

A Hop of Hope

Rewilding the Large Marsh Grasshopper

The large marsh grasshopper is a common species and of least concern on the IUCN species red list. However, in the UK, is a near threatened species and in 20 years or so, may be extinct in the wild in Britain because of climate change.
Rudmer Zwerver
The first reintroduction site had water levels restored so as to recover different floral assemblages and ensure the right habitats existed before reintroduction.
Brian Eversham
The people who rear the juvenile grasshoppers in captivity before they are mature enough to be released into the wild are local people called 'Citizen Keepers', as they take ownership of caring for these animals in their homes, collecting fresh food for them each day and ensuring the are kept health whilst they grow, before releasing them into the wild.
Citizen Zoo
The volunteer keepers, who include an entrepreneur, retirees and students living in London and Cambridgeshire, are given equipment and training and must collect fresh grass for the grasshopper nymphs every day.
Citizen Zoo
Until the translocation began, the grasshopper only survived in the wild in Britain in wet flushes within the New Forest and at a few sites in Dorset and Somerset.
Nick Owen

A partnership project led by Citizen Zoo and involving the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants and Natural England has returned the large marsh grasshopper to several wetlands across East Anglia as part of an ambitious rewilding project.

Britain’s largest grasshopper is being bred in captivity by citizen zookeepers and returned to marshes across East Anglia in a move to revive the endangered species.
The large marsh grasshopper, an elusive green insect that can appear in a striking pink-and-yellow form, is too isolated in fragments of wetland to hop back to its former strongholds. So volunteers for Citizen Zoo, a social enterprise that promotes rewilding and community engagement, are releasing about grasshoppers. The project, which is licensed by Natural England, the government’s conservation agency, has already released 2,152 “hoppers” – mainly adults but a few still at nymph stage – into the countryside. The first wild offspring from the newly released grasshoppers emerged on a nature reserve managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust last summer.

Until the translocation began, the grasshopper only survived in the wild in Britain in wet flushes within the New Forest and at a few sites in Dorset and Somerset. The grasshoppers require heat and wind to disperse and even then the males – which call by making a discreet clicking sound – rarely travel more than 50 metres.

Wild grasshoppers are collected from the New Forest under licence and their eggs harvested. Captive rearing for rewilding projects is normally undertaken by zoos but this is expensive and Citizen Zoo also seeks to involve ordinary people in wildlife restoration. The volunteer keepers, who include an entrepreneur, retirees and students living in London and Cambridgeshire, are given equipment and training and must collect fresh grass for the grasshopper nymphs every day.

Project: A Hop of Hope
Region: East Anglia
Type of project: Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: At Citizen Zoo, we want to create a world filled with wildlife. A world filled with the full spectrum of diversity, beauty, and abundance in nature. We realize this mission by restoring habitats back to their functional states, reintroducing species to their former ranges, and empowering people and communities to act in protecting their local nature. We’re an organization based in London dedicated to rewilding, made up of a passionate team and volunteers around the country working to restore nature and help species and habitats thrive. We aim to restore nature back to a functional state and as practitioners, our approach is biased toward action and applying the latest research to deliver measurable outcomes. Through translocations, reintroductions, captive breeding programs, and a whole host of other conservation actions, we’re working to rebuild habitats to a more whole state.
Citizen Zoo are on a mission to rewilding the future.
Uniqueness of the project: This is one of the first species level rewilding projects to save an invertebrate species under rewilding principles, and that has leveraged none experts (the local community) in a captive breeding program for reintroduction. These types of programs are usually very expensive, slow, and carried out by experts. The annual operating budget for the project is less than £1,000 and so the reason we have chosen this model is because it is easily scalable as the size, scope and ambition of the project grows. We think this is a unique aspect of the project and hope to help any other organizations interested in invertebrate rewilding.
Other activities: Community involved
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: We hope to use the species as a token for wider habitat restoration and protection. The large marsh grasshopper is Britain’s largest species of grasshopper and is beautiful and charismatic. It has the potential to be used as a token to encourage change at a landscape level to restore wetlands across the south and east of England. In 10 years, we hope to have restored this species back to many sites throughout its historical range where is has since gone locally extinct.
Results so far: We have carried out three translocations, captive breeding cohorts and reintroductions since 2018, and in 2021 we will expand from an original of 2 reintroduction sites to a total of four as the project grows and more habitats are restored and become suitable for the species. We have also expanded the number of Citizen Keeper involved in the project this year to a total of 10 people. Some of our new reintroduction sites are part of wider rewilding initiatives that foster nature based tourism and so we hope that large march grasshoppers on site will be able to boost interest to these areas further, by attracting more passionate naturalists to visit.
Inspirational value: As a young organisation, Citizen Zoo is on a mission to create a world filled with wildlife – including endangered insects. We are idealistic, but also practical, and so when we realised it might be feasible to restore this magnificent grasshopper back to its former range in East Anglia, we worked to develop a project. In 2018, with consent from Natural England and the Forestry Commission, we safely collected a limited number of wild grasshoppers at several sites in the New Forest. Half were introduced directly at a wetland site in Norfolk. The rest were brought into captivity and allowed to breed in carefully controlled conditions, where they laid far more eggs than they would have done in the wild. These eggs were collected for hatching and home-rearing the following summer.
Experience you would like to share: The large marsh grasshopper is a common species and of least concern on the IUCN species red list however nationally, as is the case in the UK, is a near threatened species and we predict that in 20 years or so, may be extinct in the wild in Britain because of climate change. It is found in many parts of Europe, and may also be locally threatened or extinct in other countries.
If any ERN members would like to restore the large marsh grasshopper throughout their landscapes then we can help provide all the training and expertise needed to conduct a captive breeding for reintroduction programme of the species elsewhere. We now have very detailed knowledge of its biology and can share this knowledge with others.
Experience you would like to gain: The more the merrier! We are interested in all aspects of rewilding, from ecological to social and the enterprise side of things.
Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2018
Size (ha)
N/A
Area type
Wetlands
Natural process
Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
A Hop of Hope
The large marsh grasshopper is a common species and of least concern on the IUCN species red list. However, in the UK, is a near threatened species and in 20 years or so, may be extinct in the wild in Britain because of climate change.
Rudmer Zwerver
The first reintroduction site had water levels restored so as to recover different floral assemblages and ensure the right habitats existed before reintroduction.
Brian Eversham
The people who rear the juvenile grasshoppers in captivity before they are mature enough to be released into the wild are local people called 'Citizen Keepers', as they take ownership of caring for these animals in their homes, collecting fresh food for them each day and ensuring the are kept health whilst they grow, before releasing them into the wild.
Citizen Zoo
The volunteer keepers, who include an entrepreneur, retirees and students living in London and Cambridgeshire, are given equipment and training and must collect fresh grass for the grasshopper nymphs every day.
Citizen Zoo
Until the translocation began, the grasshopper only survived in the wild in Britain in wet flushes within the New Forest and at a few sites in Dorset and Somerset.
Nick Owen

A partnership project led by Citizen Zoo and involving the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants and Natural England has returned the large marsh grasshopper to several wetlands across East Anglia as part of an ambitious rewilding project.

Britain’s largest grasshopper is being bred in captivity by citizen zookeepers and returned to marshes across East Anglia in a move to revive the endangered species.
The large marsh grasshopper, an elusive green insect that can appear in a striking pink-and-yellow form, is too isolated in fragments of wetland to hop back to its former strongholds. So volunteers for Citizen Zoo, a social enterprise that promotes rewilding and community engagement, are releasing about grasshoppers. The project, which is licensed by Natural England, the government’s conservation agency, has already released 2,152 “hoppers” – mainly adults but a few still at nymph stage – into the countryside. The first wild offspring from the newly released grasshoppers emerged on a nature reserve managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust last summer.

Until the translocation began, the grasshopper only survived in the wild in Britain in wet flushes within the New Forest and at a few sites in Dorset and Somerset. The grasshoppers require heat and wind to disperse and even then the males – which call by making a discreet clicking sound – rarely travel more than 50 metres.

Wild grasshoppers are collected from the New Forest under licence and their eggs harvested. Captive rearing for rewilding projects is normally undertaken by zoos but this is expensive and Citizen Zoo also seeks to involve ordinary people in wildlife restoration. The volunteer keepers, who include an entrepreneur, retirees and students living in London and Cambridgeshire, are given equipment and training and must collect fresh grass for the grasshopper nymphs every day.

Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2018
Size (ha)
N/A
Area type
Wetlands
Natural process
Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
Specification
Project: A Hop of Hope
Region: East Anglia
Description
Type of project: Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: At Citizen Zoo, we want to create a world filled with wildlife. A world filled with the full spectrum of diversity, beauty, and abundance in nature. We realize this mission by restoring habitats back to their functional states, reintroducing species to their former ranges, and empowering people and communities to act in protecting their local nature. We’re an organization based in London dedicated to rewilding, made up of a passionate team and volunteers around the country working to restore nature and help species and habitats thrive. We aim to restore nature back to a functional state and as practitioners, our approach is biased toward action and applying the latest research to deliver measurable outcomes. Through translocations, reintroductions, captive breeding programs, and a whole host of other conservation actions, we’re working to rebuild habitats to a more whole state.
Citizen Zoo are on a mission to rewilding the future.
Uniqueness of the project: This is one of the first species level rewilding projects to save an invertebrate species under rewilding principles, and that has leveraged none experts (the local community) in a captive breeding program for reintroduction. These types of programs are usually very expensive, slow, and carried out by experts. The annual operating budget for the project is less than £1,000 and so the reason we have chosen this model is because it is easily scalable as the size, scope and ambition of the project grows. We think this is a unique aspect of the project and hope to help any other organizations interested in invertebrate rewilding.
Other activities: Community involved
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: We hope to use the species as a token for wider habitat restoration and protection. The large marsh grasshopper is Britain’s largest species of grasshopper and is beautiful and charismatic. It has the potential to be used as a token to encourage change at a landscape level to restore wetlands across the south and east of England. In 10 years, we hope to have restored this species back to many sites throughout its historical range where is has since gone locally extinct.
Results so far: We have carried out three translocations, captive breeding cohorts and reintroductions since 2018, and in 2021 we will expand from an original of 2 reintroduction sites to a total of four as the project grows and more habitats are restored and become suitable for the species. We have also expanded the number of Citizen Keeper involved in the project this year to a total of 10 people. Some of our new reintroduction sites are part of wider rewilding initiatives that foster nature based tourism and so we hope that large march grasshoppers on site will be able to boost interest to these areas further, by attracting more passionate naturalists to visit.
Exchange
Inspirational value: As a young organisation, Citizen Zoo is on a mission to create a world filled with wildlife – including endangered insects. We are idealistic, but also practical, and so when we realised it might be feasible to restore this magnificent grasshopper back to its former range in East Anglia, we worked to develop a project. In 2018, with consent from Natural England and the Forestry Commission, we safely collected a limited number of wild grasshoppers at several sites in the New Forest. Half were introduced directly at a wetland site in Norfolk. The rest were brought into captivity and allowed to breed in carefully controlled conditions, where they laid far more eggs than they would have done in the wild. These eggs were collected for hatching and home-rearing the following summer.
Experience you would like to share: The large marsh grasshopper is a common species and of least concern on the IUCN species red list however nationally, as is the case in the UK, is a near threatened species and we predict that in 20 years or so, may be extinct in the wild in Britain because of climate change. It is found in many parts of Europe, and may also be locally threatened or extinct in other countries.<br /> If any ERN members would like to restore the large marsh grasshopper throughout their landscapes then we can help provide all the training and expertise needed to conduct a captive breeding for reintroduction programme of the species elsewhere. We now have very detailed knowledge of its biology and can share this knowledge with others.<br />
Experience you would like to gain: The more the merrier! We are interested in all aspects of rewilding, from ecological to social and the enterprise side of things.
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