It’s wild up north
ATURAL ENGLAND has named a new SSSI: the West Pennine Moors. The area (right), which covers a total of 76sq km (29sq miles) between Chorley, Blackburn, Bolton and Haslingden in Lancashire and Greater Manchester, is the largest new SSSI for more than a decade.
A ‘mosaic’ of upland habitats and moorland fridge grasslands and woodland in the region supports many breeding birds, including large colonies of both black-headed and Mediterranean gulls, as well as merlin, curlew, snipe, lapwing and redshank.
Natural England’s Chief Executive, James Cross, calls this ‘a significant moment for the protection of wildlife across a wild and beautiful expanse of north-west England… [which will] benefit both people and the environment’.
The hilly West Pennine Moors also provide clean drinking water for thousands of households and their ability to store water (in blanket bogs) is vital in reducing flood risk to urban areas downstream. Other important facets to the moors’ management that Natural England will now work on together with landowners and land managers—provided the SSSI notification
Nis re-confirmed in nine months’ time after the necessary consultation period—include sensitive grazing, both to benefit wildlife habitats in species-rich grasslands and to maintain peat water levels.
To date, there are more than 4,000 National Nature Reserves (NNRS) and SSSIS looked after by Natural England.