Cumbria Crack

RSPB and United Utilities gain double recognition for nature conservation efforts


[T]wo RSPB/United Utilities partnership conservation projects in Northern England have received accolades at this year’s Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management’s Annual Awards (CIEEM).

The Awards, which were held last week in London (Thursday 21 June) are judged by a highly qualified panel of ecologists and recognise excellence in environmental management across the UK.

The RSPB and United Utilities team at Dove Stone in the Peak District won the Large Scale Conservation Award for its upland restoration work across an area roughly the size of 5,800 football pitches.

Much of this work has focussed on restoring internationally important peatlands, which had been damaged by a combination of atmospheric pollution, moorland fires and heavy livestock grazing.

Healthy peatlands lock up harmful carbon, help improve water quality and benefit a range of wildlife. By planting vegetation on bare peat, sowing sphagnum moss – the building block of upland peatland habitats – and blocking eroded gullies, the team has helped the peatland begin to recover and is already seeing positive results including an increase in birds such as curlews.

The RSPB/United Utilities team at Haweswater in the Lake District also received recognition from the CIEEM, receiving a High Commended in the Large Scale Conservation category for its Swindale restoration project.

This initiative involved a range of work to benefit wildlife and improve water quality, including a scheme that put the natural bends back into a straightened stretch of river. It was such as success that within a few months of its completion, spawning salmon had appeared.

Lee Schofield, Site Manager at RSPB Haweswater, said: “It’s great to get this recognition from the professional body that represents ecologists across the UK. It shows that a partnership between a water company and a conservation charity can deliver real results.

“I’d like to thank all of the local volunteers who have helped made the project a reality, as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England who have played integral roles in working to make Swindale Valley a wonderful place for nature.”

Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability at United Utilities, said: “Our water catchment land is situated in some of the most beautiful and sensitive landscapes in the UK.  We are acutely aware of the responsibility that goes with this land ownership and we do our best to balance all the needs of water, wildlife, conservation and visitors. We’re incredibly proud of what’s been achieved in partnership with the RSPB at Dove Stone and Haweswater and it’s a real pleasure to see the recognition in this award.”

The CIEEM Awards are just the latest in a series of recent accolades bestowed on the RSPB/United Utilities partnership work at Dove Stone and Haweswater. In 2016 Dove Stone received the Natura 2000 Award for conservation. Last year the Swindale restoration project won the ENDS Environmental Impact Award for Natural Environment Project of the Year and the Wild Trout Trust Award for Best Large-Scale Habitat Enhancement scheme.

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