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Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supports RSPB complaint

Monday 15th October 2012

Sphagnum spores (Credit Tessa Levens)Sphagnum spores (Credit Tessa Levens)

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supports RSPB complaint to the European Commission for Natural England's failure to regulate effectively on Walshaw Moor.

We hope that Natural England will look again at Walshaw and regulate effectively.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive, Dr Rob Stoneman, one of Britain's leading peatland conservationists who both Chairs the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and the IUCN-UK National Committee Peatland Programme, today comes out in support of RSPB complaint to the European Commission for Natural England's failure to regulate effectively on Walshaw Moor and  stop damage to internationally protected blanket bog.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have a long history of campaigning for and taking action to protect Yorkshire's peatlands - both its lowland raised bogs of Thorne and Hatfield Moors in South Yorkshire and its blanket bogs on the hills of the Pennines.

Rob Stoneman said "For walkers striding across the Pennine Moors or grouse-shooters enjoying their sport in the high Pennines, it is easy to take for granted the soft ground below, for peatland is ubiquitous across the Pennines.  In times past, we have considered this land as 'waste-land' ripe for improvement through drainage or burning. But this is blanket bog, one of the rarest habitats in the world.  Britain and Ireland support most of the world's blanket bog, given our almost unique climate of damp cool summers and mild wet winters: a product of being a rain-swept island on the far western edge of Eurasia and having the warm Gulf Stream lapping up against our shores keeping us mild in the winter."

Blanket bog is home to rare wildlife - breeding birds such as merlin and golden plover, Sphagnum mosses and rare liverworts.  Sadly, it is a habitat that is hugely damaged.  Mediaeval peat cuttings, widespread drainage from the 1950s to 1980s, atmospheric pollution during industrial times and burning for grouse moor has had a massive effect. What were once Sphagnum moss dominated wet bogs have become dried out heather moors. The knock-on effects are huge, causing large bills to the water industry that have to remove the brown colour in water, possible increased flooding and an enormous loss of the once-locked up carbon in the peat to the atmosphere - one of Britain's most significant sources of carbon emissions.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with landowners and Natural England, the Environment Agency, the National Parks, Nidderdale AONB and Yorkshire Water as the Yorkshire Peat Partnership to reverse the damage to one of Britain’s most precious landscapes.

We hope that Natural England will look again at Walshaw and regulate effectively. We are also ready to work in partnership with the owners of Walshaw and any other landowners in the Pennines to help restore our blanket bogs - for carbon, for water, for grouse, for walkers and for the incredible wildlife we have here in Yorkshire.