The Dark Peak is famed for its desolate and exposed tracts of moorland top, and the open undulating high gritstone plateau with extensive blanket peat covered by cottongrass bog and heather moorland. Below the moorland, steep-sided cloughs may be lined with relict areas of oak-birch woodlands. Some of the steep valley slopes have been planted with interlocking blocks of coniferous and mixed plantation woodland while others support acid grassland.
Our Vision for the Dark Peak is of a wild and remote landscape with large expanses of upland heathland and blanket bog, fringed with clough woodlands and semi-natural grasslands. A landscape where healthy functioning peat bogs, heathland and broad-leaved woodland store carbon and water resources and provide habitats for a range of species.
Degraded moorland habitats will be restored through re-vegetation of bare peat and gully blocking to retain water. Blanket bogs will support plants like cotton-grasses, sphagnum and bog asphodel, together with a range of invertebrates and birds. Appropriate grazing and burning management will maintain diverse heathlands with a range of dwarf shrubs such as heather, cross-leaved heath, bilberry, cowberry and crowberry. These in turn will support invertebrates like craneflies, mammals such as mountain hare, and birds such as red grouse, short-eared owl and merlin.
Associated habitats such as wet heath, moorland streams, upland flushes fens and swamps, rock outcrops and scree, and moorland scrub will be safeguarded and enhanced. Straight-edged boundaries between habitats will be discouraged, and transitional habitats such as scrub and rush pastures will form mosaics to connect the open moors to wooded slopes, valleys and farmland. Where possible, habitat restoration and creation will enhance biodiversity and create opportunities for species to move through the landscape.
Native broad-leaved woodland will be enhanced, with clough woodlands, ancient woodland sites and those with relic ancient woodland species such as bluebell and dog’s mercury being particular priorities for restoration, expansion and connection.