Volunteer scientists based in the Peak District and South Pennines have won the prestigious 2017 Campaign for National Parks ‘Park Protector’ award and collected a £2000 grant.
Moors for the Future Partnership’s Community Science project which trains volunteers to monitor the health of the Dark Peak and South Pennine’s blanket bogs - topped the list of 26 groups shortlisted for the prize.
The Heritage Lottery Funded scheme has enabled local communities to take part in recording information about their moorland environment and the wildlife found there, helping to increase understanding of how these habitats are being affected by climate change.
The dedication put into the project by volunteers was celebrated when the award was presented at a parliamentary reception.
Project manager Sarah Proctor said: “Community Science wouldn’t have achieved the fantastic successes that we have in data recording and public engagement - promoting understanding and conservation of our internationally important blanket bog habitat without the dedication and enthusiasm of our volunteers. We were absolutely delighted that their achievements have been nationally recognised”.
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District - which is the original UK National Park and the lead partner of Moors for the Future Partnership - added: “The award is great recognition for the sterling work of our wonderful volunteers who regularly give their time and energy to record wildlife in challenging moorland environments. Their efforts are key to collecting the data needed to help us study how climate change is affecting plants, animals and habitats. A big thank you and well done to all our Community Scientists”.
The project plans to spend its prize on new equipment to help volunteers continue with their work, which will including monitoring otters, mink and water voles in and around the Park.
Since 2003 the Moors for the Future Partnership has been working to protect the most degraded moorland landscape in Europe, and raise awareness of how vital it is to conserve the internationally important Blanket Bog habitat of the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation.