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Future brighter for National Park wildlife

This is an archived press release

Wednesday 23 May 2007

23 May 2007

Future brighter for National Park wildlife

Water voles are doing well, so are lapwing and curlew  – but white-clawed crayfish will have to be saved from extinction in the Peak District National Park, according to the latest survey of biodiversity.

Announced on the International Day of Biological Diversity (May 22), the mid-term review of the Peak District Biodiversity Action Plan reports good news on several key fronts.

In particular, there has been a big improvement in condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (designated special plant and animal habitats), which cover a third of the National Park. In 2003 only 28 per cent of Peak District National Park SSSIs were in favourable or recovering condition. Now that figure has risen to 58 per cent, mainly through joint action by conservationists, local people, landowners and farmers.

Biodiversity Action Plan co-ordinator Karen Shelley said: “Notable benefits to wildlife have been achieved where dedicated projects have been in place.”

Such projects include Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Water Vole Recovery Project, the RSPB-National Park’s Peak Birds Project, and the Ravine WoodLife Project, which all targeted specific species and habitats to good effect.

The Vision for Wildlife Project is also delivering positive benefits for wildlife by involving hundreds of local residents and schoolchildren in restoring haymeadows, ponds, heath and woodlands.

And the Moors for the Future Partnership is restoring moorland, including rare blanket bog, on a massive scale. Moorland peat is a more important weapon against climate-change than all the woodlands in the UK and France put together, capturing and storing more carbon for longer.

However, went on Karen Shelley, there are causes for concern – notably the white-clawed crayfish was wiped out in the Peak District by a plague in 2005, and is only now being re-introduced by Natural England in the River Lathkill. Its survival is uncertain.

And grassland improvement is problematic: “Progress has been slower and harder to measure where the economic advantage of undertaking conservation management is less clear-cut, as for many grassland habitats,” explained Karen. Generally landowners and farmers need more financial incentive for land-management that encourages wild-flowers, insects and animals to thrive.

Speaking at a special BAP Review event for partners and land-managers in Hartington, National Park Authority vice-chair Hilda Gaddum said: “We’ve come a tremendously long way, but we still have a long way to go.

“Partnership is hugely important for the future. This review has provided much more informed data and clearer targets, and now we need to maintain the energy and momentum. All of us with an interest in the Peak District – organisations and individuals – can make a difference to the environment we value so much.”

To see the Peak District Biodiversity Action Plan Mid-term Review, 2001-2007, go to www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/bap.htm

This is an archived press release

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