Volunteers and conservation organisations join forces to improve moorland

MOORS for the Future Partnership has been working with Friends of Crompton Moor to give the community a sense of ownership through practical conservation.

The collaboration, which is the first of its kind for the Partnership, has seen them carry out sphagnum moss planting and vegetation monitoring over the last couple of years.

Volunteers with newly built dry stone wall

The Partnership first came into contact with Friends of Crompton Moor through the Partnership’s Community Science Project which established an environmental monitoring site on the moor in 2017.

Together they have organised sphagnum planting days, where volunteers have planted nearly 10,000 plugs of this crucial bog-building plant.

The Partnership has also advised the group on carrying out the long-term monitoring of these plants to look at how they grow and interact with the environment around them.

The majority of the funding for the project has been secured by City of Trees and granted by the Environment Agency.

This collaboration provides a blueprint for how community initiatives can become involved in practical conservation on their doorstep.

By encouraging community involvement in moorland restoration, it may help to reduce incidences of wildfire, littering and misuse of the moorland as communities develop a sense of pride in these unique landscapes.

Volunteers digging

Friends of Crompton Moor are also supported by, and work in collaboration with, other organisations including City of Trees, Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Ecology Unit.

Crompton Moor, spanning 76 hectares, is one of the largest open spaces owned by Oldham Council in Greater Manchester, and is a grade A Site of Biological Importance since 2003.

In 2010, Friends of Crompton Moor, a wildlife conservation group, was formed with the support of the Oldham Countryside Service.

Over the years a strong group of committed members has repaired the infrastructure such as fencing, drystone walls and horse stiles, and with the support of partners, protect and enhance the wildlife.

Along with the sphagnum planting and moorland vegetation monitoring, the group is restoring the heathland by controlling the trees and scrub, creating wetlands, planting trees, installing nestboxes, and removing invasive vegetation. Recording of all the wildlife is done on a regular basis and sent to national databases.

The group’s future plans include developing Crompton Moor as an environment suitable for local schools, colleges, and universities to use as a facility for biodiversity and conservation education.

In collaboration with City of Trees, Friends of Crompton Moor will also soon be starting to plant new native broadleaf woodland as part of the Northern Forest initiative.

Marian Herod, from Friends of Crompton Moor, said: “We are extremely grateful to Moors for the Future for all the help they have given us over the past few years.

“Learning about sphagnum moss and scientific monitoring seemed quite a daunting prospect at first, but with their guidance we now have a clear understanding of the importance of this work and feel completely confident that we can continue over the years ahead.

“It has been such a pleasure working with them, and we hope this friendship continues for years to come.”

Gareth Roberts, from Moors for the Future Partnership, commented: “It has been truly inspiring working with this group.

“They are so passionate about their work and they are so dedicated to protecting Crompton Moor for future generations to enjoy.

“They love the nature on their doorstep and they know that if they look after it, it will look after them in return”.

Pete Stringer, from City of Trees, added: “City of Trees is really pleased to be involved in the partnership working with Moors for the Future Partnership, Friends of Crompton Moor and Oldham Council.

“Collectively we are helping to restore essential parts of this beautiful moorland that will provide significant benefits in terms of helping to reduce flooding downstream, creating a key habitat for wildlife, and providing an opportunity for the people of Oldham to experience a local moorland environment.”

Friends of Crompton Moor are always on the lookout for new volunteers to help carry out their busy schedule of activities. To find out more about volunteering, visit their Facebook page.

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