Conservation at Work

Latest News
tickerbg

WILD JUSTICE LOSE IN COURT AGAIN AS MOORLAND BURNING VINDICATED

2nd December 2021

Leading rural organisations have welcomed a decision today to refuse Wild Justice permission for a judicial review on ‘burning’ in England for a second time. Mrs Justice Lang found all four of their grounds challenging the lawfulness of the burning regulations were unarguable. The regulations introduced by Defra this year restricted the burning of vegetation […]

NINE-YEAR LABOUR OF LOVE TO RESTORE PEAK MOORLAND

 

Peak District farmer and Moorland Association member Geoff Eyre has spent nine years restoring 425 acres of moorland from impenetrable bracken back to a more diverse heather-rich habitat, providing a boost for native wildlife and adding to its carbon capturing potential.

From a virtual desert, today the restored area is home to a wide variety of birds and animals including Brown Hare, Skylark, Meadow Pipit,  Ring Ouzel, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Snipe, Lapwing, Curlew, Golden Plover, Red Grouse and Heron with various songbirds, bees, frogs and newts.

Geoff Eyre has been a farmer for 60 years, and has restored Derbyshire moorlands over the past 30 years, developing a variety of techniques to revegetate bare peat and restore moorland flora and fauna.

The work at Abney Moor began in 2013 with the removal of a huge area of dense bracken, some of it reaching six feet in height. The bracken was treated with herbicide to prevent any regrowth and subsequently burnt to ensure vigorous regrowth of target plants. Abney Moor had been owned by the same family since 1735 prior to Geoff’s ownership.

Bracken is an invasive species and generally provides good cover for foxes, which are significant predators of ground-nesting moorland birds. Its spores are carcinogenic and bracken is also known to be a habitat favoured by ticks, which can carry debilitating human diseases such as Lyme disease.

Once cleared, the next step was to seed the area with plants that are ideally suited to the conditions in the uplands, including Heather, Cottongrass, Tormentil, Bedstraw, Heath Rush, Wood Rush, Sheep’s Sorrel, Agrostis, Sweet Vernal, Wavy Hair-grass, and various berries and mosses.

The plants took very well and grew in abundance within two years of seeding.

Ongoing management was required to maintain the diversity rather than letting one plant dominate over all the others, thereby providing homes for a greater abundance of species.

Geoff Eyre says: “The Peak District moors have some bog, but only a tiny percentage, unlike those wetter moors further north, we have also wet areas on shallow peat and very dry areas on deep peat. Sphagnum moss is only growing in small pockets.

In order to keep the moorland in good condition and reduce the threat of wildfire, we carry out controlled burning in the winter months. This promotes the growth of Sphagnum Mosses and Heathers, providing good quality habitat for our indigenous Red Grouse and a wide range of birds that use the moors for breeding in the spring.

“I have been delighted by the results of the managed burn this year. The heather has flowered exceptionally well, attracting bees, and the growing plants lock up carbon from the atmosphere. The Meadow Pipits and Skylarks are now too numerous to count.”

Working with the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool, Geoff Eyre sought to compare the advantages of using a cool burn to manage the vegetation, in comparison to cutting the area. Both of these techniques will reduce the threat of wildfire on moorland, an increasingly serious problem in recent years.

Rob Marrs, Emeritus Professor of Applied Plant Biology at the University of Liverpool, assessed the cool burn conducted in March 2021 and found that it removed just 10 to 15 per cent of the plant mass. The stalks are generally left behind and were covered in charcoal,  potentially trapping carbon. In fact on examination the stalks were found to be made up of 50% carbon.

Geoff Eyre believes that the alternative, cutting the vegetation, does not produce the same results: “Where cutting is used as a moorland management tool, the vegetation is often left to rot, which can release methane, the worst of the greenhouse gases. By contrast, a quick, managed burn allows the plants to regenerate quickly, locking up more carbon in the process and the charcoal layer also means that carbon can’t breakdown and escape.”

MOORLAND EDUCATION FOR HULL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

1st November 2021

Students from the University of Hull spent a day on Spaunton Moor in the North York Moors this week studying upland conservation. Dr Alastair Ward, Head of the Department of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Hull, organised the visit to provide an opportunity for the students to gain a better understanding of […]

STATEMENT ON MOORLAND BURNING

12th October 2021

The Moorland Association, which represents grouse moor owners in England, issued the following statement today in the wake of reports alleging that government legislation which restricts heather burning on deep peat may be being breached. Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “The claims that are being made today about alleged breaches of government legislation […]

ROBUST AND RESILIENT RAPTOR POPULATIONS ON NORTH YORK MOORS

14th September 2021

New data published by the Moorland Association shows a flourishing raptor population on grouse moors in the North York Moors for the third year running. Spaunton Estate saw a total of 1,552 raptors in its annual counts, double the number recorded in 2018. The most populous species of raptor is Buzzards – 726 sightings were […]

SECOND TIME LUCKY FOR NIDDERDALE BARN OWLS

1st September 2021

Gamekeepers in Nidderdale are celebrating the successful fledging of three barn owls after the sad loss of two chicks last year. In 2020 in the same barn three owlets hatched but two of the three fell to their death from a ledge several metres up. To improve the beautiful and protected birds’ chances this year, […]

SUSTAINABLE GROUSE ON THE MENU

16th August 2021

  MasterChef finalist Juanita Hennessey took to the moors today to prove that red grouse is one of the UK’s most sustainable foods. As the grouse season officially gets under way, Juanita showed that the number of grouse produced per acre is a tiny faction compared with other foods. Only one or two grouse is […]

GROUSE SEASON PROVIDES BOOST FOR CONSERVATION AND HARD-HIT RURAL BUSINESSES

12th August 2021

The start of the grouse shooting season got under way today in the wake of new research that underlines the social, economic and environmental importance of moorland management. This year’s season is expected to be particularly important to rural areas as they recover from the impact of lockdown. Research published earlier this week by the […]

MERLIN SUCCESS ON THE NORTH YORK MOORS

11th August 2021

The number of merlin chicks fledging on the North York Moors has reached 56, demonstrating a good recovery after a poor season in 2020. A new survey carried out by grouse moor keepers covering the majority of the North York Moors National Park moorland area has revealed 56 young merlin on the wing, suggesting a […]

GROUSE SHOOTING GIVES BOOST TO RURAL ECONOMIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT, SAYS STUDY

7th August 2021

The Daily Telegraph reports on a forthcoming academic study on sustainability and grouse shooting Grouse shooting gives glorious boost to rural economies and the environment, says study Sport supports tourism, employment and biodiversity, experts argue. Plus, Prof James Crabbe on why Glorious 12th is vital for conservation By Hayley Dixon, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT There are 8.38 million […]

dog

Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – 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.

Stay in Touch with Us



Read our News

WILD JUSTICE LOSE IN COURT AGAIN AS MOORLAND BURNING VINDICATED Leading rural organisations have welcomed a decision today to refuse Wild Justice permission for a judicial review on ‘burning’ in England for a second time. Mrs Justice Lang found all four of their grounds challenging the lawfulness of the burning regulations were unarguable. The regulations introduced by Defra this year restricted the burning of vegetation […]

NINE-YEAR LABOUR OF LOVE TO RESTORE PEAK MOORLAND NINE-YEAR LABOUR OF LOVE TO RESTORE PEAK MOORLAND   Peak District farmer and Moorland Association member Geoff Eyre has spent nine years restoring 425 acres of moorland from impenetrable bracken back to a more diverse heather-rich habitat, providing a boost for native wildlife and adding to its carbon capturing potential. From a virtual desert, today […]

Twitter