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Onwards and Uplands

9th March 2017

The campaign to ensure a brighter future for England’s uplands marches on.

Recently, over 80 people gathered from across the north of England at Newton Rigg College, Penrith under the banner of the Uplands Alliance. The purpose was to discuss building a future for the Northern Uplands post Brexit. The outcomes from the January meeting can be seen here.

The uplands cover 17% of the UK’s land mass and encompass some of its most loved and historic landscapes. The challenge the uplands now face is that they are too often contested spaces as the demand for what they add to peoples’ lives increases.

The Uplands Alliance exists as a legal entity but acts as a neutral umbrella under which interested parties can come together and discuss policy issues that affect the uplands. Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, is a proud member of the Steering Committee and is keen to participate in all identified issues that may impact upon integrated grouse moor management be it at European, National or Regional level.

Grouse moor management is a world class conservation success story safeguarding many iconic birds, landscapes and providing crucial free ecosystem services for everyone. These services include improving the quality of drinking water, landscape management and a range of recreational activities. It also creates strong socio-economic cohesion in very remote and comparatively disadvantaged upland communities.

The provision of public goods in upland locations through moorland management plays a vital role in safeguarding the future of UK’s unique and varied rural offering. Grouse moors – covering over a fifth of the uplands in England and Wales – are sustainably managed, largely through private investment by Moorland Association members and thereby offering the most cost effective model of upland management to the tax payer.

One particularly important aspect of moorland management is peatland restoration. Peatland restoration activities, in co-operation with peat partnerships and Natural England, include controlled moorland burning, reintroduction of sphagnum mosses to boost water retention and the construction of peat, stone and heather bale dams. By way of comparison, there is more carbon stored in UK peat than in the combined forests of Britain and France and this represents 42% of the UK’s soil carbon stock.

Since 2014, the Moorland Association has helped spearhead a new approach to upland management on areas of deep peat that its members manage focusing on the outcomes that benefit all. These include:

  • Carbon storage and capture
  • Improved biodiversity
  • Improved water quality
  • Slowed water run-off
  • Wildfire mitigation
  • Driven grouse shooting
  • Economic stock grazing

The amount of peatland restoration already carried out means that Moorland Association members in conjunction with peat partnerships and Natural England have become world leaders. Over 15,000 hectares of the worst eroding bare and drained deep peat have been treated on Moorland Association landholding with more work ongoing.

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Did You Know?

75% of of the world’s remaining heather moorland is found in Britain – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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