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RSPB secures Peak District wildlife for future generations

Last modified: 25 February 2015

Dovestones Reservoir from Alphin Hill

Dove Stone reservoir from Alphin Hill

Image: Ian Roberts

The RSPB has signed a deal with water company United Utilities that will help secure the long-term future for nature in the Peak District National Park.

The nature conservation organisation has taken over the tenancy of 840ha of Dove Stone (the equivalent of more than 1,200 football pitches), owned by United Utilities. This tenancy gives the RSPB the agricultural rights to the land for the next 25 years, which will enable it to deliver an extensive and ongoing programme of habitat restoration.

Since 2010, the RSPB has been working in partnership with United Utilities and their farming tenants across 4,000 ha at Dove Stone to restore water quality and help wildlife. The RSPB already had extensive management rights to around 1,100 ha of this area. This new agreement means that the RSPB now has fuller rights across around 2,000ha, helping it to further the aims of partnership.

The land under the new tenancy comprises of a range of moorland habitats including large areas of blanket bog. Globally scarce, blanket bog is important for wildlife, water quality and carbon storage. However, a combination of industrial pollution, wildfires and heavy grazing has caused severe damage to the bogs in the Peak District.  

By restoring and managing this habitat sensitively, the RSPB aims to give a long-term home to a range of wildlife from breeding waders such as curlew and golden plovers to short-eared owls.  The work will also help protect and improve the quality of water flowing into the local reservoirs, by reducing erosion of the bog.

The land covered by the new tenancy also features a range of other habitats important for nature including heath, grassland and native woodland. There will be opportunities to increase woodland and heathland on the edge of the moorland, attracting a greater variety of wildlife, including scarce birds such as whinchat, and butterflies including the green hairstreak. 

Dave O’Hara, RSPB Site Manager at Dove Stone, said: “This new tenancy represents another major milestone in our pioneering partnership with United Utilities. By gaining the rights to manage a large area of Dove Stone we will be able to further our aims of delivering habitat restoration on a landscape-scale. In doing so, we hope to continue to make big gains for nature, for water quality and for carbon stewardship.”

Ed Lawrance, United Utilities Wildlife Warden, said: “We are delighted to be extending our partnership with the RSPB at Dove Stone. It is good news not just for water and wildlife but also the thousands of visitors that enjoy the reservoir and its surroundings every year. Working together, our two organisations recognise that managing land sustainably and in partnership can deliver lasting benefits.”


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