Racing against time to finish moorland work

With days now getting shorter and Covid-19 bringing more restrictions, what's been another busy year for Moors for the Future Partnership is getting busier.

Now in the midst of another lockdown, skies above the Peak District and South Pennine Moors are active with helicopters bringing in materials as quickly as possible, taking advantage of every good weather window. 

While on the ground, socially-distanced work parties are busy in ‘cells’ constructing the 6,000 dams that are vitally important in conserving fragile moorland.

These are used to block drainage channels called grips and gullies, to help slow the flow of water, reducing the risk of flooding, as well as helping to re-wet the moors. 

This in turn improves the health of the moorland, providing a better habitat for the bog plants that live there.

As well as building the dams there’s 3,500 bags of heather brash to spread onto bare peat and begin to revegetate it. 

The heavy materials need to get on to the remote moors and the partnership, which is working with contractors to ensure it can continue protecting the environment, says helicopters are the only real answer.

It takes months to build several thousand dams and it’s a race against time to get the work finished before the birds begin to nest again in spring.

Helicopters don’t cause damage to the moorland landscape. They can also carry greater loads of materials much more quickly than ground vehicles can. 

Moors for the Future Partnership’s carbon audit has shown that the resulting healthy moorland environment will absorb more carbon than the helicopters will have emitted during conservation activities.

Adding to this complicated logistical operation, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the urgency of the operations, but the team has been working hard to get the work completed as early as possible. 

Between August and October 2019, more than 2,000 dams were constructed, but in August to October 2020, over 6,000 dams were built.

Chris Dean, head of programme delivery at Moors for the Future Partnership, said: “The conservation works season is always a very busy time of year for our staff, contractors and partners. 

“This year, everyone involved is putting in a huge amount of effort to ensure that the work gets done despite the increased challenges.

“With six months of experience of our new ways of working, we have robust Covid-secure procedures and processes that will ensure that everyone stays safe while completing this work that is vital to protect our moors.”


Main image:

FLYING IN: A helicopter in action as work continues throughout lockdown.


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