A fundraising appeal that was set up after a series of devastating fires on Marsden Moor has now reached over £100,000, thanks to donations by National Trust members and the local community.
The most significant fire, which started on 21 April 2019, destroyed 700 hectares of land and burnt for four days. Now National Trust rangers and volunteers have recorded a special video to say thank you to those who donated.
The fires destroyed large areas of Marsden Moor, which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The moor is home to mountain hares and rare ground nesting birds such as curlew and twite. Large areas of peat soils were also destroyed, which will take years and thousands of pounds to restore.
Along with partners like Moors For The Future Partnership, rangers from the National Trust have been working hard to plant sphagnum mosses which will help bring the peat back.
This will mean the moors are wetter, reducing the risk of fires in the future. Even Scout groups have been getting involved, planting sphagnum moss on the moor.
Other preventative work that’s been carried out by the rangers involves using a special machine to cut vegetation breaks alongside roads.
These mowed strips mean there’s less flammable grass which can help prevent the fire spreading. They’ve also had to repair fencing and signs which were burnt in the fire.
The money raised by the fund will be used to help the rangers continue this work, reducing the risk of fires and prevent flooding in the future too. The work goes hand in hand with a huge moorland restoration project across West Yorkshire.
The National Trust has also been working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service to raise awareness of what the public can do to help. As part of WYFRS #bemooraware campaign, banners and posters have been put in place at locations across the local area.
Ranger, Jack Simmons said ‘One of the great things that has come out of the fire is the massive positive response from the local community, to know that we are supported with the work that we do up the hill. So a big thank you from me.’
Project Manager, Rosie Holdsworth, said, ‘We’ll be using the fund to improve our future resilience to wildfire events. We’ve been cutting vegetation breaks so the fire can’t spread as easily.
We’re also using it to rewet the moorland, so planting sphagnum moss that lives up there naturally, so we can soak up loads of water. This will turn the moorland back into the sponge that it should be and help prevent it setting on fire again.’
General Manager, Craig Best, said ‘It’s amazing to have that support from the National Trust Members and the local community. The money will be used to help restore the landscape and the special peat habitats we have at Marsden.
We’ll also use it to work with the local community to reduce the risk of these kind of fires starting again. It’s hugely important that people are aware of the risk of fires on the landscape. Because of climate change, these upland areas are hugely susceptible to wildfire.
Using BBQs or lighting fires can result in a huge amount of damage.’