RSPB-United Utilities’ Dove Stone Partnership began in 2010, building on the work of UU’ Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP 2005-2010). It is a partnership between a water company and a conservation charity with shared aims to improve the site for biodiversity, water quality and people.
The 4,000ha site, in the north-west of the Peak District National Park includes 2,500ha of peatland and a fringe of heath and grassland. It is of European importance, part of the South Pennine Moors SPA/SAC, with designated features including blanket bog and associated moorland habitat and birds like Golden Plover, Curlew, Dunlin and Short-eared Owl.
An enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of professional ecologists undertook a 5 hour walk up onto the blanket bog plateau looking at a range of peatland restoration work, including re-vegetating bare peat, raising water tables and reducing erosion by a number of techniques (stone, heather and plastic piling dams). We also examined the Sphagnum restoration process, bringing back this important component of blanket bog. Formerly eroding peatland has begun to become a wetland again. We discussed the benefits that this can bring for a number of eco-system services. We discussed wildfire risk and mitigation, and the opportunities and challenges that conservation and wider upland land management might face in the future.