THE WILDLAND NETWORK - NEWS AUGUST 2007

Yet another debate on uplands going through the standard list of issues

Scheme takes moorland back to nature

Plans to reintroduce beavers to Scotland a step closer

Yet another debate on uplands going through the standard list of issues

27 August 2007

In a new document, The Uplands - Time to change?, the RSPB highlight the importance of the uplands across the UK and call for a wide-ranging debate on the future of our upland areas. The UK uplands are the hills, valleys, moors and mountains that form a distinctive and beloved part of our countryside. Habitats range from pastures and hay meadows in the valley bottoms to more extensive areas of rough grass, heather moor, blanket bog, woodland and mountain summit. These habitats, shaped by altitude, latitude, soils and climate, have been influenced by man over thousands of years.The RSPB believe that we need to find ways to ensure that the full potential of the uplands is recognised and delivered, that the people and wildlife that live there thrive, and that the uplands deliver environmental, economic and social benefits for the whole of the UK. “We feel that the great range of benefits, for people and the environment, which the uplands can deliver is insufficiently recognised, and at risk... we need to be much clearer about what we want and need from the uplands, and how we support and sustain land use that delivers a wide range of public benefits... We have identified a number of challenging questions that we think need to be addressed. We do not pretend to know the answers to all of these questions, but, we believe that if politicians, landowners, environmentalists, economists and anyone else who loves and understands the uplands work together, we could get a long way towards deciding what the uplands are for, and how to shape future uplands policies.”

www.rspb.org.uk/uplands

Scheme takes moorland back to nature

Natural England EM/210/07 20 August 2007

A Peak District farm which removed livestock from a section of its land is reaping rewards as numerous species of native plantlife return to the moorland. Clough House Farm at Wildboarclough, in the Peak District National Park, received funding from Natural England to reduce the number of sheep and cattle grazing on a 95 hectare area of moorland to allow natural and special habitats, such as blanket bog and heathland to recover.

The land, which suffered from over-grazing in the past, has had a chance to recover naturally, and native plants such as Bilberry, Heather, Crowberry and the beautiful Bog Asphodel can now flourish here. The land is also better for breeding birds like Red grouse, Golden plover and Twite.

Farmer John Eardly receives funding through the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme - one of Natural England's agri-environment land management schemes to help him reduce livestock on the moorland while the land is recovering. Mr Eardly – who started the scheme several years ago - reduced the number of sheep to a low level and removed all cattle grazing. He said: "We've noticed a lot of plants returning over the past four years. This year there has been a tremendous show of Bog Asphodel. It is well worth doing. I get a lot of benefit and pleasure from the changing moorland landscape here."

Denise Lorne, a Conservation Adviser at Natural England said: "The agreement we have with Mr Eardly is all about improving land management for wildlife, the landscape and people's enjoyment of them. I think it is great that we are now seeing the benefits. There are other ways to get heather and various other plants back onto a moorland such as spreading heather seeds on the land where it has become dominated by grasses or has been degraded by overgrazing... However, some upland habitats such as areas of blanket bog, which occurs at Mr Eardly's, are fragile. The natural method of changing the grazing is preferable and has been shown to be very successful. We want to build on the type of work at Clough House Farm to improve the National Park for everyone."

Plans to reintroduce beavers to Scotland a step closer

Press & Journal 1 August 2007

Plans to reintroduce beavers to Scotland were a step closer last night as it emerged that the new Scottish environment minister has given his backing to the proposals. The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland welcomed the news that Mike Russell is considering the return of beavers, with Argyll a possible site for their pilot re-introduction. But Donald Linton, chairman of the Argyll mainland branch of the Scottish Crofting Foundation, condemned the plan, claiming the creatures would pose a major threat to the countryside. Speaking to the Press and Journal last night, Mr Russell said: "I believe the time is right to reintroduce the beaver to Scotland, with the ecological benefits this species can bring."

It comes nearly two years after an initial proposal by Scottish Natural Heritage for a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale Woods, Argyll, was rejected by the Scottish Executive. It was turned down amid fears the project would break European laws because part of the suggested trial area was a European Special Area of Conservation. The heritage body had highlighted "possible negative effects" on the area, particularly its western Atlantic oak woodland and lochs with aquatic vegetation.

Last night Mr Russell said SNH was looking at a new beaver reintroduction proposal by the trust and the zoo society. "Any new proposal would need to take into account the previous objections and the views of interested parties," he added. But Mr Linton said: "They reckon that beavers were in Britain before but as far as I know they were never in Scotland. We are totally against this." A spokeswoman for SNH said it was offering support for a new trial licence. Trust chief executive Simon Milne said: "The beaver is a keystone species whose re-introduction can bring a wide range of benefits including improving the ecology of Scotland'