50-Year Project Aims To Breathe New Life Into The Uplands
The National Trust’s “biggest and most ambitious” landscape-scale nature conservation initiative is being launched in the Peak District today.
It aims to inspire people and involve them in restoring a landscape of healthy peat bogs, diverse heaths and natural woodland rich in wildlife.
With input from a wide range of people and organisations, the Trust has mapped out a bold new 50-year vision for 10,000 hectares (40 square miles) of land it looks after in the High Peak moors.
They cover boulder-strewn landscapes of rocky tors, dramatic valleys and cloughs and mile upon mile of wild and remote bog and heath. The iconic Kinder Scout and the spectacular Upper Derwent Valley are perhaps the best known parts, essential elements of the much loved Peak District National Park, which is visited by more than 10 million people each year.
A remarkable landscape is made all the more special by the fact it is nestled between Sheffield and Manchester close to the homes of millions of people.
Jon Stewart, National Trust General Manager for the Peak District, said: “This dramatic, beautiful and fragile landscape is the ideal place for the biggest and most ambitious work that the Trust has ever undertaken to develop a clear road map for one of its upland estates.
“Whilst there is much to celebrate about the moors and their valley-sides there are massive management challenges such as eroding peat, drying out bog, lost woodland, suppressed heathland vegetation and maintaining good access. We want to work with those who care for and have a stake in their future to address these challenges.”
Conservation work will restore habitats such as bogs and heaths on the moor tops and heathland and woodlands in steep valleys, known as cloughs.
The blanket bogs, rich in peat, on the moors are of national and international significance. It’s vital that this fragile habitat is maintained because severe erosion can release carbon into the atmosphere and have a knock-on effect on the quality of drinking water from peat ending up in reservoirs.
The peat found in the uplands of the UK has as much carbon as the forests of Britain and France combined and the High Peak moors alone store the equivalent of two years carbon emissions from the city of Sheffield.
A priority for the vision will be to keep the bogs wet through for example blocking gullies that have eroded the landscape and making sure that there is plenty of vegetation cover. Work has already begun on this on the plateau of Kinder Scout.
Work will also begin to increase the spread of trees and shrubs – both naturally and through planting – in the valleys to help restore lost wildlife habitat and a key part of the landscape, improve water quality and help conserve soils.
By creating the right conditions it will be possible for valued species such as birds of prey, red grouse and mountain hare to call the High Peak moors home in the decades to come.
One longer term measure of the success of the vision would be creating the right conditions for the black grouse to return to the moors; an upland bird that disappeared from the Peak District in the 1990s.
Jon Stewart added: “We have learnt a huge amount about how managing these moors to boost their wildlife and restore the landscape can also have massive benefits for our drinking water quality, flood management, carbon storage and people’s enjoyment, health and well-being.”
“They are in effect a life support system. Managing the moors in tune with these benefits we believe provides the best way forward for those making their living from the moors as well. “
“So this vision is all about working with people to care for the land whether that be our farm tenants, partners or the many people that passionately love the Peak District to restore the landscape and habitats, provide fantastic access to a wild place, deliver better water quality and care for the carbon in these upland soils.”