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The Issue

Sadly they are under threat due to increasingly intensive moorland management for grouse shooting.

© Moorland to City Heath Woods

The future of these incredibly special local places,the biodiversity they support, and the ‘ecosystem services’ that they provide is in jeopardy. Some areas of the Sheffield Moors – particularly those part of the Sheffield Moors Partnership 1 are managed “as a model for how uplands should be managed into the future for people and wildlife”. However, intensive management practices on some privately owned areas of the moorland threaten many of this landscape’s most iconic creatures and their habitats for a number of reasons, including:

Suspected and confirmed illegal persecution through trapping, poisoning and shooting of birds of prey

Increasing persecution of mountain hares, foxes, badgers etc through the excessive use of snares, traps and stink pits

Monoculture of heather and degradation of peat bog through extensive burning and drainage

Our moors are part of the South Pennine Moors SAC (Special Area of Conservation) and South Pennine Moors Phase 1 SPA (Special Protection Area) – European designations which legally protect these internationally important areas.

A review by BirdLife International has found that despite these protections, the South Pennine and Peak District Moors are a globally important area for birds “in danger” – one of only two sites identified as such in the UK – meaning the threat level to important upland species there is very high and in need of immediate action to prevent them from being lost.

Reasons for this have been highlighted by many conservation organisations over the years including the RSPB in their ‘Peak Malpractice’ 2 and follow up reports 3.

In addition, these moorlands are vital in providing ‘ecosystem services’ from Sheffield, including carbon capture and storage and holding back water to help prevent flooding downstream into Sheffield. If moorlands are not managed well, they can become ‘carbon-emitters’ instead of ‘carbon sinks’ and contribute to flooding. The science shows burning moorlands can make both of these issues worse as well as causing air pollution issues (see evidence section for more).

Footnotes:

  1. https://raptorpersecutionscotland.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/peak-malpractice-update-2007.pdf
  2. https://www.sheffieldmoors.co.uk/the-sheffield-moors-area/
  3.  E.g. https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/investigations/posts/raptor-persecution-in-the-peak-district-national-park and and RSPB Bird crime reports https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/birdcrime