New era for Peak moorland

A PIONEERING deal was announced this week over the future of a huge expanse of moorland on the Peak District outskirts of Sheffield.

Including the walking and climbing areas of Curbar, Froggatt and Birchen Edges, the Eastern Moors will be managed for the next 15 years by the National Trust and the RSPB.

The two conservation charities pledged this week to continue to restore the internationally important habitats such as blanket bog, to increase wildlife and to improve access for the hundreds of thousands of people who already visit the land.

The 27 square kilometres of moorland, an area the size of Chesterfield, will still be owned by the Peak District National Park Authority but it will be subject to the first management agreement of its kind, through the Eastern Moors Partnership. Five moors are covered – Clod Hall, Leash Fen, Ramsley Moor, Big Moor and Totley Moss.

National Trust director general Fiona Reynolds said: “The Eastern Moors is an area of extraordinary natural beauty and an incredibly important habitat for wildlife and an internationally important site for its archaeology. I am delighted that the National Trust and the RSPB are working together to provide some opportunities for people to enjoy this area of countryside and get closer to nature, whether they are climbers, mountain bikers, walkers or simply in need of some spiritual refreshment.”

Mike Clarke, RSPB chief executive, said the partnership “will be working hard to enhance the current experience that visitors have and will provide new ways for people to enjoy the site”.

He said: “At the same time, we will develop a land management model which will be an example of how uplands can be managed in the future for people and wildlife.”

Wildlife includes the only adder colony in the Peak District and one of only two wild red deer herds in the Peak District. The charities are advertising for farming tenants, who will graze hardy breeds of cattle.

National Park Authority chief executive Jim Dixon welcomed a “unique management partnership” with the charities. “We hope that their national strength, working in harness with local communities, can develop the Eastern Moors to their full potential for biodiversity, access, landscape protection and carbon stewardship.”

The Peak District authority is facing a 28.5% Government budget cut over the next four years and has responded with an action plan to save more than £446,000 in 2011-12 while protecting essential services.