Why Moorlands Matter

Why does Moorland Matter?

The challenging yet beautiful landscapes of the uplands in the North of England and North Yorkshire inspired our founder, Dario, to develop our range of popular outdoor boots and ultimately the Dedito brand.

However, these stunning unspoilt backdrops of open heather moorland and rolling dales aren’t just inspirational.  They are incredibly rich in wildlife, red list bird species and unique biodiversity; all of which has national and international importance.   Alongside this, they are often also home to remote communities and related businesses who rely on this environment for their income.

So why is our heather moorland so important?  In short there is no one simple answer, but a myriad of connected factors at play; including environmental, economic and social.

Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and is globally under threat.  No other country has extensive heather uplands equivalent to those in the UK.  Most other heather areas are lowland or coastal, leaving the UK responsible for 75% of the world’s heather moorland.

Heather moorlands and their fringes offer some of the finest habitats in the country thanks to the great skill of dedicated gamekeepers and the private investment from landowners.  At the time of writing, these upland moorland areas are teaming with life as the nesting and hatching season is well underway.  Lapwings, curlew, oystercatcher, short eared owls, grouse, meadow pipit, snipe and a host of other bird and animal species all call these unique landscapes home.

From an environmental perspective, heather moorlands are some of the UK’s best locations to capture and store carbon.  Our moorlands hold 42% of the UK’s carbon stock, with 44 million tonnes on grouse moors, locking up more tonnes of carbon than the combined forests of Britain and France.  A huge amount of restoration work has already taken place on managed moorland to help reduce upland emissions, lock in carbon, mitigate flood risk downstream and build resilience to climate change.

The protection and maintenance of these landscapes is not only significant from an environmental viewpoint. These areas are also critical to the continued viability of our rural communities; providing local jobs, encouraging tourism and maintaining a strong sense of community.  Compared to national data, a Moorland Community Study in 2020 highlighted that respondents that lived in the moorland communities that were surveyed, had a stronger sense of belonging, strong social networks, lower levels of loneliness, greater sense of job security, and a strong sense of identity based on a shared heritage and culture.

The integrated management of these areas also results in agriculture benefiting from the financial facilitation role played by many estates and sporting tenants in securing Stewardship scheme funding. Without this facilitation role, many moorland farmers would struggle even more than they do at present to remain viable. The work of the farmers and the estates is symbiotic and leads to the maintenance and enhancement of our heather moorlands, maintaining biodiversity and year-round access, ensuring these areas are attractive to tourists and generating significant income to the local area.

In addition to those employed directly to manage these upland areas, a diverse range of ancillary businesses benefit from this management, particularly in areas managed for grouse shooting.  Accommodation providers, equipment suppliers, catering establishments, game dealers and transport operators, often based in remote rural locations depend on managed moorlands and grouse shooting as the main economic driver outside the tourist season.

The safeguarding of this unique environment is a priority, a fact acknowledged by all involved, however how this ambition is achieved is subject to hugely different opinions and often emotive debate.

Hopefully with a coordinated, collaborative and compromising approach, all those who are invested in and care passionately about these stunning areas can work together to solve the challenges ahead.

Supporting information taken from:

Moorland Community Study – UON – August 2020

Why Our Moorlands Matter – The Moorland Association September 2020

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