EU’s £5.5million boost for Peak moorland restoration

This is an archived press release

Thursday 17 September 2009

17 September 2009

EU’s £5.5million boost for Peak moorland restoration

Green, healthy landscapes will replace black, eroding wilderness as a £5.5million EU funding boost will help restore more than 2,000 acres of Peak District and South Pennine moorland by 2015.

The Moors for the Future Partnership, based in Edale, has secured backing from the EU Life+ Fund to launch its five-year Moorlife project, one of the biggest moorland restoration programmes in Europe.

The project’s aims are to benefit internationally-important wildlife, reduce flood-risks to nearby cities by absorbing downpours, purify water supplies and help to mitigate climate change by retaining carbon dioxide.

It will regenerate vegetation on what is now bare, eroding peat, damaged by centuries of airborne industrial pollution and wildfires. Helicopters will help spread seed from the air and fly in equipment, fertiliser, and plug-plants to the remote terrain.

The restoration of globally-rare blanket bog with highly-absorbent plants such as sphagnum moss is one of the top priorities. Specialist upland plants such as heather, cottongrass, bilberry, crowberry and cloudberry will also be re-introduced.

Moorlife, due to start in April 2010, will cover large expanses of Peak District and Pennine moor between Manchester and Sheffield, including Bleaklow, Shelf Moor, Sykes Moor, Alport Moor, Black Hill, Rishworth Common, Higher House Moor and Turley Holes.

Much of the land is owned by the water companies Yorkshire Water and United Utilities, serving as catchment areas for their reservoirs, while the rest is owned by the National Trust and private landowners.

Geoff Nickolds, chair of the Moors for the Future Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this vital backing for the Moorlife project which will restore habitats of European significance.

“It will have important benefits for communities on both sides of the Pennines in terms of lower flood-risks and improved water supplies, and we expect it to create up to 40 seasonal jobs and six full-time posts for its five-year duration.

“It will also restore these wild, biologically-important landscapes to a state where they can be enjoyed rather than endured by walkers, with benefits for health and well-being. And we hope it will once again support a wide diversity of upland birds, plants, mammals and insects that specialise in this distinctive habitat.

“Moorlife will complement other programmes including Natural England’s Environmentally Sensitive area scheme, as well as flood-management work for Defra and the Environment Agency, expected to be launched in the near future. Ambitious projects like these, across such vast landscapes, would be impossible without practical and financial co-operation between large organisations who share the same vision and commitment, and we are grateful to them all.”

The Moors for the Future Partnership was launched in 2002 with backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is now at the forefront of the UK’s moorland research, restoration and awareness programmes.

Moors for the Future funding partners are: the Peak District National Park Authority, Natural England, the National Trust, RSPB, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Derbyshire County Council and the Environment Agency.

This is an archived press release

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