7th June 2011
The Moorland Association – whose members manage over a fifth of the Uplands -has welcomed the Government’s Nature Improvement Area initiative in the Natural Environment White Paper today (7th June). It offers a real vehicle to achieve The Moorland Association’s aim to regenerate 250,000 acres of lost heather moorland.
The Natural Environment Assessment last week, provided scientific evidence that the moorland environment in England is considered to be of considerable intrinsic value and has a very high positive impact on wildlife species diversity, landscape enjoyment and provides some of the country’s most iconic and treasured landscapes. In addition, the uplands provide 70% of the country’s drinking water and 42% of soil carbon storage thus helping to mitigate climate change.
However, major losses in the extent and quality of the landscape between 1940 – 1980 attributed mainly to afforestation, agricultural development, grazing and airbourne pollution, has resulted in the loss of ‘dwarf shrub’ or heather moorland – the crucial building block for a healthy environment in these areas.
Bringing the heather back will in turn bring benefits for people from improved landscape, wildlife, ecosystem services and economy as are found in areas where heather moorland has been protected on a landscape scale by management for red grouse. The Moorland Association will bring together endorsing partners with a shared vision for large scale landscape improvement such as; the AONBs, National Park Authorities, Moors for the Future, Peatscapes and Natural England, and work with landowners of areas that will, once restored, re-connect existing heather moorland and its fringes, create wildlife corridors, reduce fragmentation, and boost areas already benefiting from integrated moorland management.
Said Martin Gillibrand, Secretary of the Moorland Association: “In setting up this initiative, Government has really listened to our advice. We want at least one of the 12 projects to win funding from the new £7.5 million Nature Improvement Area initiative to be a moorland regeneration project. From its demonstrated success, we will then ensure Government rolls this out across the North of England. It is a fantastic opportunity to give back to local people lost icons of the moors such as the curlew and lapwing, and build sustainable green economies through integrated moorland management.”