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Environmental and ecology consultancy Wildscapes, based in Sheffield, is celebrating the success of the moorland restoration project it is carrying out at Bleaklow in Derbyshire, as part of the Moors of the Future project.

Wildscapes was awarded a 12 month contract with Moors for the Future, a collaborative initiative of local authorities, environmental organisations, landowners and utility companies, to take part in a unique restoration programme involving over 2,000 acres of Peak District and South Pennine Moorland.

Vicky Smith, chief executive of Wildscapes, said: “This is a fantastic project to be involved with as it demonstrates the skill and expertise of our land management team. Active restoration and management of these beautiful moorland areas is extremely important for carbon storage and we are very proud to be playing a part in this project.”

Moors for the Future is a programme designed to encourage responsible use of moorland, restore and conserve natural moorland resources and develop expertise on how to protect and manage the moors sustainably.

Wildscapes was successful in winning the contract due to its expertise on previous projects of this type on Saddleworth Moor and at Kinder Scout, as well as being able to demonstrate value for money.

The work involves preventing further erosion of peat moorland and encouraging moorland plants to regenerate. This is done by the Wildscapes team laying geo-textile material on peat gullies to stabilise and preserve the peat and encourage heather brash (cuttings) on flatter bare peat. The geo-textile material is completely biodegradable and is supplied in strips, which are cut to size and spread across the peat gullies and secured in place. These materials provide a microclimate for heather seeds, preventing them from being dislodged by the strong winds on Bleaklow and allowing them to germinate.

The work has to be carried out during the winter months (starting September and finishing in March), in order to avoid the bird nesting season and to ensure that as much seed as possible is in the heather brash.

Steve Maynard from Moors for the future, said: “It can look very glamorous when people see loads of geo textile and heather brash being flown in by helicopter and dropped on the moors, but it’s not glamorous once the loads are the ground! It’s very hard, dirty work in isolated places in often very extreme conditions. Added to that – the team from Wildscapes have to hike to the worksite, sometimes for a couple of hours, carrying all their gear and hike off again when they’ve finished. But it’s all worth it at the end of the day.”

He continues: “The work is highly specialised and is so important to ensure the long term future of the beautiful moorlands that are such precious wildlife habitats. Restoring the badly damaged areas of peat on Bleaklow is a long term operation,
but already we are seeing vast swathes of new vegetation being established and helping to prevent peat erosion.”

Moors for the Future is now one of the biggest peat restoration operations in Europe.
The Moors for the Future Partnership was formed in February 2003, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It includes project partners, such as the Peak District National Park Authority, National Trust, Natural England, United Utilities, Severn Trent Water, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Derbyshire County Council and RSPB.

Back in 2003, a huge fire swept across Bleaklow moor, resulting in seven hectares of burnt moorland, killing everything in its path from vegetation to livestock. Since then, Bleaklow became the focus of the initial restoration works, with other similar works also carried out on a range of moorland sites in the Peak District and South Pennines including Kinder Scout and Black Hill. In the past nine years, the work has involved laying over 100 miles of geo-textile netting to help stabilise peat and prevent erosion. There has also been over 20,000 cubic metres of heather brash spread by contractors such as Wildscapes and 135,000 dwarf shrubs planted on the moors, with the assistance of volunteers, plus thousands of trees have been planted.

For more information, contact Wildscapes’ land management team on 0114 279 2667 or visit the website or

Chris Sabian, Peak District View - 2012-03-01 17:53:33

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