Peak District bird of prey project wins National Lottery support


A nature conservation project aimed at reversing the fortunes of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park has received National Lottery support.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded a development grant of £91,900 to a partnership made up of the RSPB, National Trust, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and Peak District National Park Authority. This funding will enable the partnership to progress plans for the Upland Skies project and apply for a full National Lottery grant next year.

Birds of prey should be a common sight on the hills and moors of the Peak District National Park, but they are in trouble. For some species – most notably Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk and Hen Harrier – there is mounting evidence to show that illegal persecution is an important factor in crippling local populations of these birds. For other birds of prey – such as Merlin and owls – the picture is less clear, with declines potentially linked to habitat quality and climate change.

Evidence suggests that Northern Goshawk is heavily persecuted in the Peak District, particularly on and around areas of managed grouse moor (Anne Navntoft).

Taking place in Sheffield and the Peak District National Park, Upland Skies will raise public awareness of the threats these birds face and inspire local people and visitors to take action to help increase the numbers of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park. The project aims to inspire, educate and engage children and young people about the national park's precious wildlife and the landscapes on their doorstep. It will also champion positive land management techniques, which will in turn provide habitats to help birds of prey thrive once more.

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Over the next year the partnership will develop Upland Skies into a full, large-scale project proposal. Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Amanda Miller, the RSPB's Conservation Manager for Northern England, said: "We'd like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this grant and to all the players of the National Lottery who made it possible.

"Birds of prey are protected by law, yet they continue to decline in numbers. To secure their future for generations to come we need to inform local people about the issue and inspire them to help save these birds. Furthermore, we need to ensure that the moors and hills are looked after in a way that give birds of prey the best chance to thrive. Those of us who live in and visit the Peak District National Park are being robbed of the opportunity to experience this fantastic wildlife; we hope this project will help put these birds back where they belong – in our skies."

The Peak District's Peregrine Falcon population is much lower than it should be, due to ongoing persecution (Steven Mcgrath).