Status of Making Space for Water Project
Richard Pollitt (Conservation Advisor, Natural England) Current conservation status of blanket bog on Kinder Plateau and the wider area; reflections on the efficacy of MFF restoration activities in improving conservation status
The site for the Making Space for Water project is the globally rare blanket bog habitat on Kinder Scout plateau. This site is protected by several European and UK designations, including Special Protection Area (EU legislation mainly for vulnerable bird species), Special Area of Conservation (EU legislation mainly for habitats of conservation value at a European level) and National Nature Reserve (UK legislation as part of Special Sites of Scientific Interest). In spite of this high level of protection, significant parts of this habitat are composed of bare, eroding peat. Although initial attempts at restoration using the application of lime by the National Trust provided a temporary flush of Deschampsia flexuosa, it was not until Moors for the Future was born in 2003, that a more concerted programme of restoration was put in place.
Specifically, Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets for SSSI condition were put in place whereby the area is surveyed every 6-7 years and a condition assessment made according to a “level 1 feature” (list of key species). In one of the earliest assessments in 2004, 75% of the area was found to be in an unfavourable condition. The reasons for this, in order of importance, include overgrazing, over burning, erosion, disturbance, wildfires, atmospheric pollutant deposition and water loss. Restoration work by Moors for the Future is helping to set this habitat on the road to recovery.