Blanket bog restoration project scoops major European conservation award
· Dove Stone in the Peak District has been awarded the Natura 2000 Conservation Award in recognition of the work to restore threatened blanket bog habitat
· The project is restoring 2,500 hectares of moorland to blanket bog with the help of a team of volunteers
· Britain has about 15% (1.5m hectares) of the total global area of blanket bog, making it one of the most important international locations for the habitat
· Blanket bog provides a huge number of benefits to people including; storing carbon, improving water quality as well as providing important homes for a variety of birds and wildlife
The RSPB and United Utilities have been awarded the 2016 Natura 2000 Nature Conservation Award for an ambitious habitat restoration project at Dove Stone in the Peak District.
The project, 'Demonstrating Success in Blanket Bog Restoration', is aimed at restoring around 2,500 hectares of moorland back to natural blanket bog, an internationally scarce habitat, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.
Britain has about 15% (1.5m hectares) of the total global area of blanket blog, making Dove Stone one of the most important international locations for the habitat.
The Peak District once boasted a number of thriving blanket bogs but a combination of industrial pollution, moorland fires and heavy grazing, has left them seriously damaged. The restoration work will provide a number of benefits to the area including; helping to tackle climate change by locking up harmful carbon, acting as a natural filter to improve water quality and creating a habitat perfect for a variety of species such as curlew, dunlin and red grouse.
The Natura 2000 network safeguards more than 27,000 important nature sites across Europe. The awards were established to recognise excellence in the management these sites.
Since 2010, the RSPB and United Utilities have worked to restore blanket bog at Dove Stone in partnership with tenant farmers. The project involves planting vegetation on large areas of bare peatland, including planting over 70,000 individual handfuls of sphagnum moss, and repairing eroded gullies.
Dave O'Hara, the RSPB's Site Manager at Dove Stone, said: "We are delighted to have won the Natura 2000 Conservation Award but it's important to say that it wouldn't have been possible without the help of our dedicated volunteers.
"Although this is a European award, this is a very local project, which has depended on the dedication of local people who have braved the elements week in, week out to help start to return this part of the Peak District to its former glory."
Ed Lawrance, Wildlife Warden at United Utilities, said: "It's wonderful that the project has been recognised in this way. I think the judges were genuinely impressed at the success of the partnership and the commitment of all those involved. Not only that, we've demonstrated what can be achieved thanks to all our volunteers and this success could be used as a template and replicated around the world."
1. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
2. United Utilities provides water and wastewater services for 7 million people in the North West of England. We own and manage 57,000 hectares of water catchment land in some of the most beautiful and environmentally sensitive landscapes in the UK. We aim to manage this land in a way that protects water quality and wildlife, while maintaining access for the public to enjoy it. www.unitedutilities.com