Derbyshire Peak District initiative to protect “some” birds of prey

[singlepic id=288 w=300 h=225 float=left]Any initiative to enhance and protect birds of prey is to be welcomed, especially in an area like the Derbyshire Peak District where raptor persecution has played a significant role in the elimination of the region’s goshawk population. In June the news was published on this web site of the destruction of Derbyshire’s only hen harrier nest along with the killing of the breeding female. We should all bear in mind the goshawk and hen harrier are perhaps two of Derbyshire’s most persecuted raptors. Why therefore has there been no mention of the goshawk at all and only a vague mention at the end of the article referring to the hen harrier? Perhaps because the moorland association is a partner of this initiate, representing the grouse-moor owners,  they would rather sweep this particular hot potato well and truly under the carpet. Not a good omen for the future success of this initiative!

Five leading land management and conservation organisations in the Peak District National Park have got together to boost birds of prey in the Dark Peak.

The organisations – the Moorland Association (which represents grouse-moor owners), the National Trust, Natural England, Peak District National Park Authority and RSPB – have set targets for healthy populations of merlin, peregrine and short-eared owl.

Together the five organisations have funded independent field workers to help achieve their aims, by working locally with land managers and birdwatching groups.

The group is chaired by one of the directors of the Peak District National Park Authority, John Lomas. He said: “We have been working together since 2008 to look for a common approach to the future of birds of prey in the Peak District.

“We know that issues surrounding birds of prey can be a source of disagreement and conflict, but our aim is to have a shared approach that will gradually ensure a more harmonious future.

“Together with the help of the field workers, we are working with landowners, keepers, raptor groups and partner organisations to gather information which will be used to check progress, including monitoring breeding success.”

The moors concerned are largely a Special Protection Area (SPA), which means they are internationally important for vulnerable bird species, including short-eared owl, merlin and peregrine falcon.  The partnership has used past population levels and habitat availability to produce targets of:

  • Merlin – increasing from current 22 breeding pairs to 27 by 2013 and 32 by 2015
  • Peregrine falcon – increasing from current 13 breeding pairs to 15 by 2015, filling gaps in distribution
  • Short-eared owl – maintaining current population averaging 25 breeding pairs to 2015.

“We recognise there may well be some issues of challenge that remain, but this initiative is making progress,” said John Lomas. “With continuing co-operation I believe we can achieve a good outcome for these special birds and their habitats in a way that considers all our interests.”[singlepic id=289 w=600 h=417 float=centre]

It is hoped to develop targets for species in the South West Peak at a later date.  Hen harriers will also be considered.  They have attempted to breed on several occasions in the Peak District in recent years, including a nesting attempt in the South West Peak this year.

3 comments to Derbyshire Peak District initiative to protect “some” birds of prey

  • John Miles

    With upland areas shortly to produce less heather thanks to land owners agreeing to block drains to prevent the heather moorland tops from drying out, more pressure will be placed on Birds of Prey as less Red Grouse will be produced as heather declines.

  • I’m somewhat perplexed by the statement that past population levels(of birds of prey) have been looked at when drawing together the current targets and yet there is no mention, or commitment, to increasing the Goshawk population. This was formerly much higher than at present, has been decimated as a result of persecution, but yet there appears to be no intention to even attempt to try and retrieve the situation.

    Are we simply talking about future efforts to increase species used within the justification for the SPA designation or a real intention to improve the numbers of raptors within the Peak?

    And why should attempts to do something for Hen Harrier be limited to the SW Peak? OK, the most recent records of breeding attempts may have been in that area ,but there are many other areas of habitat within the National Park where pairs might settle. Why not a policy expressing a firm commitment to protect any future breeding birds with the overall intention of getting them established within the Park, wherever that applies.

    It would also have been encouraging to read the declared policies of the constituent bodies on initiatives to eliminate raptor persecution in the Park area given the various reported incidents and court cases which have arisen within the area in recent times.

    All a big ask I agree, but necessary. However , whatever the apparent weaknesses, limitations or omissions in the statements of intent, I wish well upon those involved and their efforts.

  • Jim Clarke

    Why humor such organisations as the Moorland Association? Projects such as this only provide cover for the ongoing criminality of many of its members (not heresay; look at the court reports). It’s about time the Peak District National Park laid down the law; if your caught killing birds of prey then your lease is terminated and you are off the land.