Project information

Crayfish in Crisis

We need to save white-clawed crayfish from extinction.
White-clawed crayfish, the UK’s only native crayfish species are in catastrophic decline due to the introduction of invasive species and the diseases they carry. We need to establish colonies in areas that are isolated from these invaders.

January 2017 - December 2021

Charity information: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Limited

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Limited logo
  • Need


    White-clawed crayfish are in danger of becoming extinct in our rivers due to the introduction of alien crayfish species and the diseases they carry. Hundreds of millions of white-claws have been wiped out across the UK. American signal crayfish are the most prolific invader. They grow bigger, breed faster and disperse quicker than white-claws. If this wasn’t bad enough, American crayfish often carry a fungal disease which has spread like a plague throughout many of our rivers and streams.


    We need to establish “Ark Sites” for white-claws. These are waterways that are isolated and protected from alien invaders and offer a safe refuge for white-claws to live. These sites include quarries, lakes, reservoirs and streams with physical barriers such as waterfalls, weirs and dams. We’ll set up a breeding programme to restock these areas and monitor them closely. Eventually these populations will be used to restock rivers if and when the crayfish plague burns itself out.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Identify suitable Ark sites in the South West Peak District area


    » Undertake feasibility checks (hydrology / ecology) in the Dane, Goyt and Dean river catchments
    » Liaise with landowners to gain permission for Ark site establishment

    What success will look like

    As a result will have information of the hydrology and ecology of a number of different sites in the target area and will have permission from landowners to use these sites.

    Aim 2

    Establish viable populations of white-clawed crayfish within Ark sites


    » Translocate white-claws using best practice techniques
    » Monitor population
    » Introduce management plans
    » Educate on biosecurity to prevent accidental spread of crayfish plague

    What success will look like

    Success will mean we have been able to establish viable populations of native crayfish at a number of Ark sites within the South West Peak District.

  • Impact


    The South West Peak District will become a stronghold for this internationally endangered species. We’ll be able to promote our techniques to other organisations and encourage crayfish projects to be set up across the UK. The Ark sites we establish will not only keep the species from becoming extinct, they’ll also be used to repopulate rivers and streams if and when the crayfish plague burns itself out. One day white-claws will once again become a common throughout our rivers and streams.


    Biosecurity is our biggest risk. crayfish plague can be carried on wet nets, clothing and boots. We therefore have very strict protocols in place to minimise risk. White-clawed crayfish are an internationally endangered species and contact is strictly controlled by law. All of our project staff are fully trained and licensed to work with this species.


    We will send donors a thank you message with details of how to keep up to date with the project.
    Crayfish conservation is a major programme for us. Updates are regularly posted on social media and features are written in our magazine.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £61,017

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,500 materials Site enhancement / fencing etc.
      £8,030 equipment Survey equipment / biosecurity / PPE / water testing etc.
      £13,600 Fees Consents / water testing / analysis etc.
      £22,317 Staffing Senior Freshwater Ecologist
      £12,570 Other costs Training / expenses / travel / value of volunteer time

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Heritage Lottery Fund £44,545 Conditional
    Non Cash Contributions £3,000 Conditional
    Staffordshire Wildlife Trust £2,472 Conditional
  • Background


    The South West Peak District is an upland landscape on the borders of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. The area includes many upland streams and watercourses that are geographically isolated and perfect for this project.


    This is a project aimed at species conservation and will take place in locations that are isolated from the public.

    Our longer term aim is to return native crayfish to waterways across the UK.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Staffordshire Wildlife Trust leads the way nationally in crayfish conservation. Over the past five years we have delivered a number of successful crayfish translocation projects and re-established viable populations in several ark sites across the county.

    Recently we have also established a crayfish hatchery where we are successfully breeding white-claws for reintroduction into the wild.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Nick Mott - Senior Freshwater Ecologist

    Nick will lead the project. Nick is an internationally respected freshwater ecologist who has worked in this field for almost 20 years.

The White-clawed Crayfish is easily my favourite freshwater crustacean and it is under threat like never before. It is vital that we act now to protect this highly endangered British species. This is why I support Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's Crayfish in Crisis campaign.

Mike Dilger, TV Wildlife Presenter