Peak District trails will bloom into vital wildlife corridors thanks to a £160,000 funding boost.
The Peak District National Park Authority has secured a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England which will channel Government money over the next ten years to help combat the decline in UK biodiversity.
Covering some 30 miles of verges alongside the High Peak, Tissington and Monsal Trails, the agreement will enable the authority to connect and enhance more than 45 hectares of high quality wildlife habitats in the White Peak landscape.
National park ecologist Rebekah Newman said: “This very welcome boost to conservation management not only offers improvement for Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and threatened species but also the opportunity to link and extend existing habitats across the White Peak.
“The scheme will contribute significantly to national nature conservation strategies such as Biodiversity 2020, Making Space for Nature (the Lawton review) and the Natural Environment White Paper 2011 which stress the importance of creating landscape-scale, connected habitats under the principle of ‘Bigger, Better and More Joined Up’.”
Walkers, cyclists and horse-riders on the former railway routes will see more wild flowers, butterflies and birds as wildlife takes advantage of greater opportunities to breed and flourish.
Distinctive species of the White Peak should benefit, including dingy skipper and small heath butterflies, spotted flycatchers, glow worms and native flowers such as Jacob’s Ladder, greater butterfly orchids, frog orchids, cowslips, ox eye daisies and field scabious.
Trails manager Abi Ball said: “The payments, which include almost £80,000 for capital works and £8,000 a year until 2023 for annual management, will enable us to introduce sheep grazing at key locations to help prevent the build-up of rank grasses and use a ‘cut and collect’ machine to mow the trail-sides.”
The scheme is part of a five-year Trails Management Plan (2013-2018) to which residents and visitors contributed.