Birds of prey are in trouble in the Peak District. They should be a common sight on the hills and moorlands but evidence has shown that for some species, such as peregrines, goshawks and hen harriers, illegal persecution in the area is causing a huge problem.
For other birds of prey such as merlin and owls, the picture is less clear – with declines potentially linked to habitat quality, caused by inappropriate land management and climate change.
To combat this, local charities are working together on the Upland Skies scheme: a nature conservation project aimed at reversing the fortunes of birds of prey in the Peak District.
The Upland Skies birds of prey project is a partnership between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, RSPB, National Trust and Peak District National Park Authority. The project has received support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with £91,900 awarded. This funding allow the partnership to progress plans for the project, and apply for a full National Lottery grant next year.
Tim Birch, Head of Living Landscapes (North) at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “Birds of prey are protected by law, yet they continue to decline in numbers. To secure their future for generations to come we need to inform local people about the issues and inspire them to help save these birds. Furthermore, we need to ensure that the moors and hills are looked after in a way that gives birds of prey the best chance to thrive. Those of us who live in and visit the Peak District are being robbed of the opportunity to experience this fantastic wildlife; we hope this project will help put these birds back where they belong – in our skies.”
The project will take place in Sheffield and the Peak District, where public awareness will be raised of the threats that face these birds, and local people and visitors will be inspired to take action.
Upland Skies will champion positive land management techniques, which will provide habitats to help birds of prey thrive once again.
The project also aims to educate children and young people about this precious wildlife and the landscapes on their doorstep.
Over the next year the partnership will be developing Upland Skies into a full large-scale project proposal.