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Moorland birds

From Dave H

Friday, 8 September 2017

Just as trees have their place in Calderdale, in the rush to plant as many as possible for flood prevention we must also remember that moorland birds have their place, and have had for centuries. Wet moorlands might seem desolate places to most humans, but to birds such as lapwing, snipe, curlew, short eared owl, golden plover, skylarks and many more, they are perfect just as they are. Treeless and seemingly desolate. These conditions, though unappealing to us, provide the correct delicate balance of food supplies, nesting sites, and isolation. When humans then artificially introduce trees in such a habit, the balance entirely changes, and the native moorland birds suffer.

See this article about the decline of the curlew. 

We don't need to stop planting trees - but we definitely need to choose their location carefully. The view that 'I've planted a tree and therefore that's good for nature' is well meaning but can in these cases be incorrect.

From Andy M

Friday, 8 September 2017

Most of our surrounding moorland is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (and Special Protection Area) for its wet heath and breeding bird populations and tree planting would need consent and be confined to appropriate places eg clough sides. 

Most of these moors and much of the rough grazing and inbye land, is also under Higher Level Stewardship agreement and again tree planting needs to be agreed and be appropriate so we probably already have the checks in place. 

However, the need for flood mitigation is high and some compromise might be needed, and this may already be reflected  in the Calder Valley Flood Management Plan 

From Dave H

Friday, 8 September 2017

In my opinion, too many areas of the likes of Blackshaw Head, the upper Colden Valley, Midgely and Pecket Well have had large fields (that must have fallen outside of the classifications you describe) planted with trees where just a couple of years ago lapwing, curlew, hares and skylarks all thrived (as they have done on those fields for centuries).

Again - I am in no way anti-flood measures. I personally had a property and two businesses severely hit in 2015. But when tree planting in the hope that it may lessen flood risk instantly damages native wildlife, we must assess whether we are planting in the right areas. This is enforced with the article on the decline of the curlew.

From Andy M

Saturday, 9 September 2017

If you go onto magic.gov and tick designations (SSSI/SPA) and land-based schemes (agri-environment + woodland grants) this gives a very clear picture of the amount of land covered. 

From Tim B

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Over recent years (30 or so) there has been an increase in horse keeping and a decrease in sheep farming.  While sheep appear to live compatibly with ground nesting birds, horses and cattle can to lead to a reduction in these birds, particularly if the fields are overgrazed.  

In addition changes from later hay cutting to earlier silage cutting can disturb curlew's nesting.

Some good information  in this document

From P. Fincham

Friday, 15 September 2017

People may like to know, that there are plans by Yorkshire Water, in conjunction with White Rose Forest and Treesponsibilty/ The Source project, to plant large swathes of trees on open moorland above Gorpley Clough, Todmorden as part of a wider 'landscapes for water' initiative.

This is contentious, not least because of the use of the area by upland birds, that still manage to live there, despite many threats. Aspects of the project are positive e.g. bog restoration, pasture management, and prevention of soil erosion.

However once trees are planted the landscape will be changed forever, to the detriment of curlew, skylark, peregrine, merlin, twite and others - ( some red data listed ). If you have concerns or queries email guy.thompson@kirklees.gov.uk  Copy to hugh.firman@calderdale.gov.uk

From Andy M

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Go further back though and there was once much more woodland on these uplands, but a changing climate and human induced clearance, grazing and burning resulted in the moors we see now.

Once thing we need to accept is that current conservation methods and designations  are too static in the face of climate change and we need to think more dynamically both spatially and temporally.