The restoration of a large section of the Border Uplands with a view to improving the prospects of threatened habitats such as blanket bog, hay meadows and species such the freshwater pearl mussel in Northumberland National Park (NNP) is now taking place.
In October the NNP appointed Abi Mansley at as project co-ordinator. She will oversee the ambitious scheme aims to improve environmental networks by joining up fragmented patches of five key habitats of the North Tyne, Redesdale and Coquetdale uplands including bog, woodland, streams, moorland and grassland.
The project involves resources from a group of organisations including Northumberland National Park Authority, Natural England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Tyne Rivers Trust, Northumberland County Council, the MOD, the RSPB and the Environment Agency.
The partners aim to use the improvements to enhance the benefits that we expect our land to deliver for both people and the environment such as cleaner water, natural flood alleviation, carbon storage and a richer biodiversity.
Abi will be working on behalf of the partnership with landowners and residents throughout an area of some 50,000 hectares between Bellingham, Falstone, Rochester and Rothbury and includes areas outside the National Park that are part of the same river catchments.
Although the project is concentrating on connecting and improving habitats, the areas also support a range of upland species that will benefit; bird species such as curlew and ring ouzel and a wealth of invertebrates such as mountain bumblebee and large heath butterfly. A mosaic of interconnected habitats is the key to a resilient environment hopefully helping these species, and ultimately us, to cope with climate change.
Abi grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and is passionate about wildflower identification and wildlife photography. She studied Countryside Management at university and has worked in Rights of Way and Access for local authorities in Kent and Cumbria as well as with Walk England.
Abi said: “The Border Uplands Project is a really exciting chance to approach habitat improvements from a whole landscape perspective – or a whole area of moorland or network of peat bogs – rather than focussing on small, isolated areas. Working with land managers, we have a chance to make a real difference by ensuring wildlife populations can to connect between habitats rather than becoming isolated from each other, or to move into in the event of extreme weather events.
“I’m really delighted to have a role which can help habitats and the species that depend on them, while bringing real benefits to people. For example, last week I went to see some grip blocking taking place – a healthy bog can store hundreds of tonnes of carbon and can prevent silt and pollutants entering the river catchment.”
Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Gill Thompson, National Park Ecologist, added: “The Border uplands may seem remote, but the health and connectedness of their habitats can impact many native species and thousands of people living miles away downstream. It is excellent that we are now able to work together to support a co-ordinator whose sole focus will be to progress the project. I have no doubt that Abi is the right person to move this important work forward.”
Category: Northumberland National Park