News: May 2012

Date posted: 17/05/12


You may recall that Natural England launched its upland policy back in autumn 2009. The reception by the industry was best described as luke warm and all I can say is that the published document was a great deal better than the first draft. Now, three years into the 50 year vision, the document has been withdrawn.

The reason for this is not entirely clear, but it would appear to be a combination of lack of industry support, political direction to focus on delivery rather than policy, and legal activity surrounding the management of Walshaw Moor in the south Pennines. What ever the reasons, there now appears to be an environmental policy vacuum in the uplands. While this may not be an entirely bad thing, it does create some uncertainty in areas such as HLS delivery, vegetation management, afforestation and the delivery of eco-system services.

Natural England is now beginning to review the evidence upon which its policies are based, presumably with a view to formulating new policies. This review is being conducted under 5 themes:

  • Impacts of managed burning on peatland biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Impacts of tracks and vehicle use on soil structure and hydrology and their impacts on biodiversity.
  • Appropriate management regimes for sustaining biodiversity in upland hay meadows.
  • Determination of environmentally sustainable stocking regimes on moorland.
  • Feasibility of restoring degraded blanket bog including areas such as drainage, vegetation cover (peat forming species), and climate change.

It is clear that these themes will have a direct correlation to upland land management practices. The review is academic in nature and does not as yet include the socio-economic aspects of the uplands. It is due to be completed by the end of 2012.

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