Group members: 6
Length of agreement: 5
Area of group (Hectares): 855
The project is situated on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, just outside Ashbourne. The group’s landholdings purposefully straddle the Peak District National Park boundary occupying a strategic position that will enable the re-connection and delivery of better outcomes for a large number of semi-natural habitats (and associated species) characteristic of the White Peak. This will be achieved by increasing awareness about the importance of these habitats, improving understanding of, and sharing knowledge about, these habitats, and encouraging farming practices that will deliver high nature value.
These locally and nationally important habitats extend from the Manifold and Hamps’ valleys and Dovedale in the north, to the Weaver Hills, Cauldon and Stanton further south, where the limestone geology shapes the landscape, farming and biodiversity.
Maintaining and protecting at least 36 ha of good condition Lowland Meadow SSSI, which supports populations of locally rare and important plant species such as Sawort, Creeping Willow and Fragrant Orchid. Botanically enhancing & restoring target priority habitats, Lowland Meadow and Lowland Calcareous Grassland (at least 90 ha in total) through improved management and use of wildflower donor sites to establish a minimum of 36 ha of locally important communities. Managing more than 30 ha of wet grassland to deliver multiple benefits, such as better habitat for breeding waders, improved flood alleviation and potential for restoration of floodplain meadow plant communities.
Wooded habitats and improving connectivity
A mixture of Ancient Woodland, Species-Rich Hedgerows and Wood Pasture and Parkland provide further opportunities to benefit wildlife. There is excellent potential to improve tree management (including for dead wood/veteran and ancient trees) and linkages between habitats; the group will look to improve connectivity between the historic and ancient wood pasture sites of Ilam and Okeover Park. Altogether, the current membership will deliver improved management for more than 105 ha of Woodland and Parkland, as well as 16.6 km of Species-Rich Hedgerow. The River Dove offers ample opportunity to join up sites and improve wildlife corridors.
The group’s holdings support a wide variety of priority species (those of principal importance to conserve) and efforts will be targeted to meet their needs: Currently, more than 80 pairs of Lapwing; 20 pairs of Curlew and/or Snipe; Skylark; Willow Tit, Pied Flycatcher and Grey Partridge breed on the group’s farmland. Other bird species such as Barn Owl and Song Thrush are also known to make use of the area. Water Vole; Otter; Brown Hare; Pipistrelle bat, amongst others, have all been recorded on the land holdings and much of the planned work will directly benefit these species.
Partnerships & support systems
To further the group’s effectiveness in delivering large-scale benefits to the White Peak area, the group is looking to widen the partnership to include additional group members and to engage with other conservation organisations and projects in the local area. A major aim is to set up systems that will support and drive forward on the ground delivery: a series of farmer workshops and training sessions; a coherent landscape management plan for the White Peak habitats and species; a comprehensive machinery ring; a functioning grazing partnership; a local, sustainable and well managed seed exchange; regular volunteer work parties and school engagement to increase access to, and understanding of, the natural environment among young people.