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Heather moorland 'needs work to protect it'

Posted 2 November 2011
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Heather moorland 'needs work to protect it'
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Upland heath is a habitat almost unique to the UK and careful management is needed to preserve it, Natural England has said.

The body noted 20 per cent of the UK's heather-covered moorland was lost between 1947 and 1980 and said a range of actions need to be taken to preserve a landscape many who like to go walking there have an "emotional connection" to.

With nowhere in the world bar the British Isles and the western seaboard of Europe featuring such habitat, it is vital to ensure grazing is controlled and burning limited, it added.

Occasional fires help spread biodiversity, but too many can lead to shrubs being ousted by mat and moor grasses.

There are 270,000 hectares of heath in England and nearly ten times this amount in Scotland.

One area of significant heath coverage is the Peak District and the impact of climate change on this landscape was recently studied by children from 14 different schools in the national park authority's Moorlands as Indicators of Climate Change Initiative.

Their data is being used by experts to find out more about how the ecosystem of the moors is gradually altering.