Moors for the Future sets sights on 2020 vision

17 February 2014
Hooking on rope bags during a heather brash airlift

Moors for the Future Partnership has set out ambitious plans for development up to 2020 in a new Business Plan which will offer services to a wider market in 2015-2020.

A not-for-profit partnership and a global leader in large-scale moorland restoration, our current members include the Peak District National Park Authority, Environment Agency, Natural England, National Trust, RSPB, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.

Set up in 2003, we operate in the South Pennine Moors – 650 sq km of moorland renowned for their valuable habitats and birdlife, and protected by Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area designations. Over the past 10 years we have developed the experience and capacity to undertake large-scale regeneration of these globally-rare moorland habitats, collaborating with multiple landowners.

Using innovative techniques led by scientific research, we have transformed almost 27sq km (10.5 sq miles) of black degraded peat in the South Pennines and Dark Peak with a new green skin of vegetation to halt further erosion and decline.

Cotton grass, heather, bilberry and other upland plants are taking root on areas such as Bleaklow and Black Hill whose vegetation had been devastated by two centuries of industrial smoke pollution, wildfires and erosion. Sphagnum, a key peat-building moss, is being cultivated in specially-developed gel beads and then spread on the moors, woodland and shrubs are being re-introduced, drainage gullies blocked, and wildlife is returning.

Our work has many benefits including:

  • drinking water improvement for millions,
  • enhancement of river water quality,
  • flood risk management
  • carbon retention to help combat climate change.

The new vegetation reduces peat, silt and pollution draining into reservoirs, slows the flow of water into downstream communities, and keeps carbon in the soil. Increasing flora and fauna on blanket bog is also a key part of the work as well as an EU priority.

In addition, an awareness-raising programme has involved thousands of residents, visitors and students in moorland research, collecting memories for an oral history project, or helping create audio trails. One award-winning campaign reminds walkers to keep their dogs on a lead to protect wildlife and farm animals.

Geoff Nickolds, chair of the Moors for the Future Partnership, said: “We want to use the huge achievements of the first 10 years as a platform to build on for 2020. We have an unbeatable track-record of managing landscape-scale projects, innovation and specialist advice based on scientific evidence, and we can offer that to a wider market.

“Over the next six years we want to increase the resilience of our moorlands against climate change and spread our work by supporting habitats such as clough woodlands and upland hay meadows. We also want to widen our citizen science programme across the South Pennines, inspire more volunteers and communities, raise fire awareness and expand the improvement of drinking water and flood reduction.

“When Professor Sir John Lawton, author of the ground-breaking ‘Making Space for Nature’ report, visited one of our projects, he said: ‘You win in terms of water quality, you win on carbon, you win on landscape, and you win on wildlife conservation.’ What better endorsement could we have to carry on this globally-important work?”

To make that happen, the partnership’s financial planning for 2020 includes strengthening its support-base of partner-organisations, seeking further grants from sources such as the Government and EU Life+ Fund, delivering more special projects for landowners, marketing its expertise, and benefiting from possible new funding streams.

Read the Business Plan

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