This blog has been a bit critical of the National Trust in the past, suggesting that it isn’t taking its nature conservation work sufficiently seriously, and so it gives me great pleasure to highlight an excellent piece of work, nearing fruition, by NT. It’s such good news it is worth being the second blog of the day.
The NT is a major land-owner in the Peak District National Park and it is now consulting on the future of the High Peaks Moors. The National Trust’s way forward will make uncomfortable reading for its grouse-shooting tenants, for the Moorland Association and maybe, considering the earlier events of the week over Walshaw Moor Estate, for Defra too.
The National Trust has looked at the environmental quality of its land, noticed that birds of prey are illegally persecuted there, worried about the impact of burning on blanket bog, thought about carbon in peat, looked at the water running off the uplands and come up with a document that leads the way for change to create a habitat richer in carbon, birds of prey and woodlands in the cloughs. It’s probably not a bad blueprint for management of other upland blanket bogs.
Here are some quotes:
‘At present we believe that birds of prey are under-represented on the National Trust High Peak Estate. The Management Plan and its delivery will seek to address this.’
‘The National Trust is clear that bird of prey persecution is completely unacceptable and we will be working with future tenants who share this view’.
‘The National Trust is clear that bird of prey persecution on its land is completely unacceptable. We will be working with future tenants who share this view and are working with us to ensure that birds of prey are successful.’
‘research suggests that populations of some species such as golden plover are artificially high in some areas of degraded blanket bog. We would be prepared to accept reductions in overall numbers of particular species if favourable condition of the habitat leads to this result, provided the species remains viable.’
‘…shooting management has contributed to certain areas failing to reach favourable condition through, for example, the promotion of heather dominance on blanket bog through rotational burning. We will be working with our tenants to retain practices which contribute to favourable condition, whilst removing practices that do not.’
‘The National Trust does not wish to maximise heather cover on the blanket bog…’
‘We regard burning as an appropriate management tool for dry heath and, in certain circumstances, for the management of wildfire risk. Burning will be restricted where it is damaging soils or habitats for example by drying out deep peat or by hindering the restoration of wet blanket bog.’
‘…there are many restoration issues on the the High Peak Moors that these [farming and grouse moor management] management regimes have not addressed. We now have a wider understanding of conservation needs, including for resource management such as water and carbon…Therefore changes are needed to achieve favourable condition on the moors.’
How wise and how clever! The National Trust has now surprised me with its conservation thinking. Good for them!
It’s turning out to be a pretty good week – and there is more to come, I promise you.