Thursday, 18 November 2010

Moors for the Future conference

The Moors for the Future project is well established and has been at the forefront of heather restoration on peat since its outset. It was set up with HLF funding by the Peak District National Park to respond to the devastation on Bleaklow, above Glossop, with the devastating wildfire of April 2003, providing the final push to get something done.  I have supported the project since the outset and I was asked to chair the second day of the conference that took place on 15-16 November.  This conference marks the start of the second phase of the project that is now seeking to restore heather on bare peat in the South Pennines and on other parts of the Peak District.

The project has held many conferences and these have become a focus of the scientific research effort for all the local universities in Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds but also for all those carrying out research into uplands, especially peat management, in the rest of the UK.  They have proved to be very popular.

Three thoughts struck me from this conference:

1.  I am not convinced that enough thought has been given to the management / maintenance of the restored areas after the helicopters have departed and the vegetation has been re-established.
2.  There was a marked lack of land management input into this conference, in spite of the best efforts by the project team to attract people.  Whatever the reason for non-attendance, the lack of a balanced input detracted from the conference.  It should be noted that the land managers will be essential to solving the first issue I have outlined above.
3.  Why is it only MFF that is holding these conferences?  I think that there is scope for more similar conferences, especially if they can be made to attract delegates from all sectors.  I would like to see research that meets the needs of land managers for more information and has a practical application encouraged in this way.   Pure science can be encouraged by others.  Scotland would provide a good base for a conference to promote the research work taking place north of the border.   Is this a role for The Heather Trust or Scotland's Moorland Forum?

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