Moorland on increase for first time in 50 years

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The Independent Online

The sight of purple heather on the northern uplands of England is on the increase for the first time in 50 years, experts said yesterday.

The sight of purple heather on the northern uplands of England is on the increase for the first time in 50 years, experts said yesterday.

Research shows that, thanks to considerable investment by owners of the land, the decline in heather moorland is being steadily reversed.

Before the Second World War, heather covered vast areas of northern England but the increased need for agricultural land and timber production meant that much of it was destroyed.

However, figures released today by the Moorland Association show that heather is on the increase.

Over £9.5m has been invested by the owners of the land for regeneration. This has been backed up by grants from farmers from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, the Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union.

And under a new initiative announced yesterday, 75,000 acres of northern moorland have been signed up to a 10-year management scheme for regeneration.

Sir Anthony Millbank, chairman of the Moorland Association said: "Managed heather moorland is not only a habitat for grouse, but is vitally important for a whole raft of bird life, including rare and protected species. These habitats support populations of breeding birds that are internationally renowned."

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