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£80,000 wildlife boost for Big Moor

This is an archived press release

Wednesday 16 March 2005

16 March 2005

£80,000 wildlife boost for Big Moor

Wildlife is the winner after English Nature and the Peak District National Park Authority agreed £80,000-worth of grants to help regenerate internationally important habitats on its Eastern Moors estate.

English Nature, the Government's wildlife champion, set up a package through its Sheep Enhancement Wildlife Scheme under which tenant farmers on Big Moor have agreed to remove half their sheep and manage those that remain to restore habitat.

Sheep tend to eat young heather, so this arrangement will allow plants to flourish, restoring precious heather moorland habitat over vast expanses. Big Moor, near the villages of Curbar, Froggatt and Baslow, is one of the areas designated by English Nature as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rare and characteristic wild plants, birds, insects and other animals.

National Park Head of Conservation Jane Chapman was delighted with the deal with English Nature and the farmers: "This represents a giant stride forward for the moors," she said. "You can manage a moor by cutting or burning heather, spraying bracken and removing birch but to significantly enhance the condition we need to set grazing at a sustainable level, which we now have."

Jon Stewart, deputy Peak District manager for English Nature said: "We are very pleased to be able to provide the means by which the National Park Authority and its tenants can positively manage this internationally important area for moorland wildlife. This will enhance the wildlife value of Big Moor. It will also be great for people who visit the Peak District, improving their countryside experience."

Farmer Cedric Gilbert, chairman of the Big Moor Tenants' Association, said: "This agreement makes financial sense for us and we are happy that the wildlife of the area will benefit."

Last year English Nature reported that 70 per cent of Peak District SSSIs (mainly privately owned) were in unfavourable condition, largely due to overgrazing, fires and air pollution. The National Park Authority wants to lead the way in regenerating SSSIs, aiming to meet the Government's target of 95 per cent in a favourable or recovering state on its own land by 2010.

English Nature, the National Park Authority and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are all contributing to other conservation work on the Eastern Moors, including Leash Fen, where drains which had been leaching the life out of a rare blanket bog have been blocked with 30 earth dams. In addition, 30 shallow pools have been scraped out to benefit wading birds such as curlew and snipe.

For further information on new grants available, including DEFRA's Environmental Stewardship Scheme, contact the National Park Authoritys countryside and economy manager Suzanne Fletcher on 01629 816349.

Joint news release with English Nature

This is an archived press release

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