Peak District rangers celebrate conservation success
Thirty years of our rangers and wardens' conservation work has healed a seriously damaged landscape at Kinder Scout. Celebrating this success reminds us that helping wildlife thrive at our places is a long-term game.
We acquired Kinder Scout, 20 miles from Manchester, in 1982, when much of the Kinder hillside was bare, black, eroding peat.
At that time, Bob James was one of our Peak District wardens. He, along with 10 other former wardens and our current ranger Tom Harman met to see the result of more than thirty years’ work to restore the heather moorland.
'We were gobsmacked by the change,' he says. 'You could see heather coming through and bilberries starting to get established.'
Bob, 70, was a warden from 1981 to 1989. He says: 'I’d been walking on Kinder since the late 1960s as part of the local mountain rescue team.'
'In most parts, Kinder was like a moonscape – the result of heavy grazing by sheep and big accidental heather fires,' he adds.
Led by 'inspirational' Head Warden David Wilson, Bob and his colleagues tried various ways to encourage heather and other plants to grow on the Kinder plateau: from gathering sheep off the hill to spreading heather seedlings.
" In summer Kinder’s slopes are dotted with the white cotton grass. Rare wildlife like Bilberry Bumblebee is starting to return."
Thirty years on, our rangers are continuing with the pioneering work started by David Wilson and Bob James.
Since 2010 we’ve been working with water company United Utilities to restore 191 hectares badly damaged moorland on the Kinder plateau – equivalent to the area of almost 270 football pitches.
Rangers have built over 6,000 dams, rewetting the moor and helping heather to flourish.
We’ve planted 10,000 trees in the surrounding cloughs and half a million cotton grass plants.
Tom Harman, who leads the project to restore Kinder, says: 'In summer Kinder’s slopes are dotted with the white cotton grass. Rare wildlife like Bilberry Bumblebee is starting to return. And we’re keeping rainwater from flooding Manchester’s reservoirs downstream.
'All this conservation work is possible because of the efforts of our wardens, rangers and volunteers over the last three decades.'