DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS have been praised for helping a popular Greenfield beauty spot claim a top international award.
The RSPB and United Utilities have scooped up the prestigious European Nature Conservation prize in recognition of their ongoing habitat restoration work at Dovestone.
Their project, entitled ‘Demonstrating success in blanket bog restoration’, beat off stiff competition to win this year’s Natura 2000 Award, presented at a ceremony in Brussels.
Now in its third year, the award recognises excellence in the management of its network of protected sites across the European Union.
Dave O’Hara, Dovestone site manager, said today: “We would like to say a big thanks to all our dedicated volunteers who have played a massive role in making this habitat restoration work a success.
“Although this is an international award, this is a very local project, which has depended on the dedication of local people who have braved the elements to help return this part of the Peak District to its former glory.”
Blanket bog is a globally scarce habitat, which plays an important role in storing carbon, improving water quality and giving wildlife a home.
The upland areas of the Peak District once boasted thriving blanket bogs but a combination of industrial pollution, moorland fires and heavy grazing, left them seriously damaged.
Since 2010, the RSPB and United Utilities have been restoring blanket bog at Dovestone in partnership with tenant farmers.
As the bogs gradually recover they will eventually help tackle climate change by locking up harmful carbon and improve water quality by acting as a natural filtration system.
Mr O’Hara, added: “Our survey work shows how our blanket bog restoration has helped conserve moorland breeding birds and even bring them back from the brink.”
Ed Lawrance, wildlife warden at United Utilities, said: “It’s wonderful the project has been recognised. I think the judges were genuinely impressed at the success of the partnership and the commitment of all those involved.
“Not only that, we’ve demonstrated what can be achieved thanks to all our volunteers and this success could be used as a template and replicated around the world.”