Letter: Better in the wild than decorating a rockery

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Sir: Your article concerning the damage to Winskill Stones (13 September) is an urgent reminder of the threats facing limestone pavements in general.

Limestone pavement occurs in Cumbria and North Lancashire as well as in Yorkshire, and remains threatened by both legal and illegal removal to satisfy the demand for 'water worn' rockery stone, in spite of legislation to protect it.

Limestone pavement is globally rare, and supports a highly specialised ecosystem. This includes a number of very rare plants, such as the Morecambe Bay whitebeam, dark-red helleborine and Angular Solomon's Seal. Due to the nature of the formation of pavements as part of the action of glaciers, once destroyed a pavement is lost for ever.

The existing legislation to protect pavements is difficult to enforce, and it is the problems associated with protection of them which has lead to the establishment of the Limestone Pavement Action Group. The group hopes to be able to launch a campaign to highlight the continuing destruction of this habitat.

In the mean time, your readers can do their bit to conserve an invaluable natural resource by not using it in their gardens. Limestone pavement as rockery stone is an outrageous piece of environmental vandalism.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID HARPLEY

Conservation Manager

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Cumbria

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