UPM Tilhill works with RSPB to restore globally important habitat in Cumbria

Archive 30.6.2010 0:00 EEST

A large area of slow-growing conifer trees in Cumbria is being felled to help restore a rare and important moorland habitat to its former glory. Confined to the uplands in the north and west of the UK, blanket bog is a quilt of rich and wet peatland vegetation that takes thousands of years to form. Its restoration is recognised nationally and internationally as a conservation priority.

The RSPB has acquired a 99-year lease on an area of the Denton Fell plantation, north of its Geltsdale reserve, consisting of lodgepole pine planted on deep peat blanket bog.

As this area of land at Denton Fell is very wet, the trees are smaller than normal and are damaging the blanket bog. With the help of UPM Tilhill, the RSPB plans to fell 110 hectares of the plantation, which it hopes will enable the blanket bog to recover and lead to an increase of typical bog plants such as sphagnum mosses around the site.

The costs of tree removal are being met via a grant from Natural England as part of its Higher Level Stewardship scheme. The project is also supported by the Famous Grouse via sales of Black Grouse Whisky, and a £143,000 grant from WREN, a not-for-profit-business that awards grants to community projects across the UK on behalf of Waste Recycling Group (WRG).

Steve Garnett, the Moorland Warden at RSPB Geltsdale responsible for the project, said: "Commercial forestry planting and overgrazing has led to a worrying decline in blanket bog in the UK. It is an incredibly important habitat for a number of threatened bird species including black grouse and golden plover. Moreover, blanket bog acts as a carbon storage facility, which is vital for tackling climate change."

The tree felling will be carried out by UPM Tilhill as part of the company's biodiversity programme.

George Hay, UPM Tilhill's Deputy District Manager for North West England, explained: "Foresters are naturally interested in conservation issues and I am very pleased we have managed to progress this important project with the RSPB."

"The operation to remove the trees in the very soft peat will be challenging. Most of the tree crop is required to provide machine floatation mats for stability. This important conservation project will not only improve the habitat for black grouse but for other species of flora and fauna as well."

"Whenever trees need to be removed, we encourage the organisations we are working with to carry out replanting on a more suitable site."

For more information contact:

Chris Collett RSPB Communications Manager, 0191 233 4317, 07885 834889

Suzi Christie PR Consultant UPM Tilhill, 01435 830031

Notes to Editors:

UPM Tilhill is the UK's largest timber harvesting and forest management company. This habitat restoration project has clear links with UPM's global biodiversity programme which aims to maintain and enhance biodiversity in its own forests, as well as develop best practice in sustainable forestry. The programme focuses on six key elements for biodiversity: native tree species; deadwood; valuable habitats; forest structure, water and natural forests. The restoration of open-mire habitat not only meets the objectives of the Biodiversity Strategy but provides benefits for the extant Black Grouse population as well as having wider ecological benefits. Further information is available at www.upm-tilhill.com

WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by Waste Recycling Group (WRG) as part of a voluntary environmental tax credit scheme called the Landfill Communities Fund. Since 1998, WREN has granted over £133m to more than 5,100 projects which benefit people living within 10 miles of a WRG landfill site.

The Black Grouse Whisky
· It is a blended whisky made from grain and malt whisky.
· To date The Famous Grouse has donated £100,000 to the RSPB through sales of The Black Grouse whisky.
· It is a unique blend of The Famous Grouse mixed with peated malt whisky to create a rich smoky, peaty blend with the trademark quality and smoothness of The Famous Grouse.
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The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten our environment. Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way. Click here to join today www.rspb.org.uk/join||. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654