When I moved to the edge of the Peak District almost three years ago I was excited to think of all the wildlife that I could see just outside my house. We will be living next to a national park, I thought, there must be loads. Yet since moving here we have only seen the odd unusual animal and it’s been the exception rather than the rule.
I attended a talk given by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, where Tim Birch outlined what the Peaks could be like – with pine martins and red squirrels plentiful throughout. But why isn’t this already happening? It seems that the landscape in its current form favours one species, red grouse, over any other and the plants and wildlife that should exist in a national park are simply not there.
As beautiful as the heather moorlands can be in full bloom, surely there should more a more diverse landscape for us to enjoy?
The landscape is managed in such an uninspiring way that it ultimately affects the bio-diversity of the Peaks, as well as reducing the landscape’s ability to help us deal with climate change and assist with flood reduction. Although there are still re-wilding projects going on in small clumps around the area, any re-introduction of species such as ospreys or golden eagles would probably result in death for any bird that happens to go near an unscrupulous gamekeeper with a gun, who perceives them as a threat to the red grouse.
A national park is a great outdoor playground for everybody—cyclists, walkers, climbers and many others—and not just for people who wish to shoot birds.
We could have people coming to the Peak District to see all this wildlife and then putting their money into local businesses all around the national park. Farmers could be properly paid to manage the land with grazing animals, and gamekeepers (who know these moors better than most) could be paid to show tourists the best parts of the Peaks. This vision is not un-realistic surely?
When you talk about poaching of elephants, rhinos and animals in other countries we Brits get annoyed, but maybe people should look at what is going on in their own country as well.
Tim referenced other re-wilding projects such as Knepp in Sussex where the landscape has returned to a more natural state. Knepp estate now has safaris running to show members of the public animals that have returned, such as purple emperor butterflies and nightingales.
So this kind of wildlife and landscape management is possible. All it needs is a bit of co-operation between those who work and play in the Peak District, and we could see a return to the diversity our own part of the world deserves.