The University of Aberdeen’s Sustainable Uplands Project has an interactive map and interactive wall where people can post their photos and words about what the uplands in their specific neighbourhood mean to them.
So far there’s only one post from West Yorkshire on the interactive map.
But this could be an interesting way to build up a picture of how people in the Upper Calder Valley feel about the tops – from farmers to tourists and everyone in between. This could create a useful information resource and help decide what to do about land use and environmental issues.
The importance of peatbogs
There is a lot of controversy over the management of Walshaw Moor, particularly about their practice of draining and burning peat bog in order to make the tops more suitable for grouse. The new land use management agreement between Natural England and Walshaw Moor’s owner aims to increase protection of the peat bog, although it still permits peatland burning.
Natural England entered into the new land use management agreement after it dropped its legal action against the owner of Walshaw Moor, which was an attempt to ban the owner from burning the peatland. At the same time, there was a public inquiry into peatland bog burning on the Walshaw Estate, which came to an end in February 2012. I found all this a bit odd and put in a Freedom of Information request to Natural England, to try and find out what was going on.
It seems that the National Farmers Union and landowners, eager to protect the use of moorlands for grouse shooting, engaged in concerted lobbying of Defra, in order to stop the introduction of a ban on burning peatland.
Natural England advocates that grips or drainage ditches should be filled in, in order to restore peatlands by letting them hold water and return to bogs.
Restoring peat bogs is important for flood control
Natural England’s website explains how restoring peat bogs is important for flood control:
“the uplands of the Pennines, such as those above Sheffield, are criss-crossed by over 30,000km of moor grips most of which were funded by Government grants in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Rainfall which used to be absorbed by peat bogs, rushes through these moorland drains into streams and lowland rivers, threatening the towns on their banks. The floods which occurred in Ripon in 2000 – and again in June 2007 – are a case in point. Restoration of these peat bogs will not only benefit precious wildlife habitat, but also reduce run-off. “
Natural England also points out that restoring and enhancing peat bogs would lock up carbon and save the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 1.1 billion car miles or 84,000 family-sized cars.