£5.5m moor restoration

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A £5.5 MILLION conservation project is under way in the Peak District to restore pollution-ravaged areas of peat moorland.

Work is being carried out by Moors for the Future, a partnership led by the Peak District National Park Authority.

Funding has come from a range of bodies, including Yorkshire Water, the National Trust, Derbyshire Council, Sheffield Council, the RSPB and the Environment Agency.

A team from environmental consultants Wildscapes has been involved in the latest phase of the work, one of the biggest conservation projects ever undertaken in the UK.

The scheme aims to return 1.6 square kilometres – the equivalent of 320 soccer pitches – of badly damaged peat moorland to a healthy condition and to protect a much larger area.

Since the Victorians first fired up their coal-powered engines, polluted air has been killing off the plants that keep the moors healthy.

Overgrazing, summer wildfires and the weather have also contributed to a management problem that, in large moorland areas, cannot be tackled by one organisation alone.

 The partnership’s mission statement is to secure the legacy of 8,000 years of moorland life and ultimately to vastly increase the number and diversity of mosses and moorland plants that provide the basis for an important ecosystem.

Wildscapes was selected to deliver the latest phase of work because of their local knowledge of the delicate moorlands, as well as their heather and moorland restoration skills which have been developed from past initiatives, including the Coalfield Heathlands project as well as work for the National Trust.

Their efforts will help stabilise bare peat in some of the most damaged areas of moorland, including Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Saddleworth, near Manchester.

“It has been a privilege to work on this project, surrounded by the stark beauty of the moors,” said project manager Tom Grose,

“Knowing that we are having a direct impact on the future of these awe-inspiring moors, is a very humbling experience.

“I hope that in the not too distant future I’ll bring people to these moors and show them where we worked and the difference that we have made.”