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Protecting and improving the moorland surrounding Walshaw Dean Reservoirs

Yorkshire Water will start removing the invasive rhododendron plant that has colonised the moorland surrounding Walshaw Dean Reservoirs north of Hebden Bridge next week.

It’s part of a £2million programme, in support of Natural England, to improve the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England and aims to protect England’s nature and landscapes.

Centuries of change have led to Yorkshire’s peatland habitats being degraded. Over the next four years, we will conserve and enhance 43 square miles of Yorkshire’s peat moorland – much of which we own and designated as SSSI.

Restoring and protecting these iconic landscapes will boost local biodiversity and benefit the thousands of visitors who enjoy the moors and also improve the quality of raw water in several moorland catchments.

Michael Toy, Project Manager, said: “Over the next few weeks we are working with our tenants and neighbouring landowners to remove these plants which aren’t native species from the moorland around Walshaw Dean middle reservoir. We hope this will allow native plants like cotton grass to grow back freely.”

Other moorland restoration techniques that will be used elsewhere include moorland gully blocking to restore water tables; re-vegetation using sphagnum mosses and native grasses and heathers; control of invasive and non-native species including bracken, fern as well as rhododendron plants and the repair and removal of fences to control grazing regimes.

Innovative survey techniques are being used; unmanned aircraft are mapping erosion features on SSSI moorlands and helping to identify areas for improvement.

The project at Walshaw Dean Reservoirs will be complete before Christmas, with the whole programme of work complete by the end of 2020.