Benshaw Moor

Wild Uplands: Rewilding upland heathland and peatland 

Waterfall Alice Mc Court

At a glance

Location

Elsdon, Northumberland

Area

635 acres

Start date

2019

Scale

Medium

Habitats

Upland, Mixed woodland, Rivers and streams, Grassland and meadow, Heathlands and shrub and Blanket bog

Key species

Otter, Curlew, Short eared owl, Ponies, Cattle, Adder, Bogbean and Small pearl borderd fritillary

Rewilding actions

Extensive grazing, Natural regeneration and Peatland restoration

Engaging people

Volunteering and Research

In 2019, Northumberland Wildlife Trust purchased Benshaw Moor after a successful public appeal, making it one of the newest reserves for the Trust. The upland site is remote and wild. There are no paths or recreational infrastructure available, but the site is open access. It supports blanket bog habitats to a depth of 4.5m indicating the age of the blanket bog on site, with a mosaic of marshy grassland, acid flushes, mire and heathland, as well as burns and a limestone stepped waterfall.

Prior to its purchase the site was grazed by sheep and was subject to occasional burning and driven grouse shooting. The Wildlife Trust are working with a group of dedicated volunteers to collect biodiversity data about the site and will use this information to develop the rewilding strategy for the project. The overall aim will be to allow nature the space to create a mosaic of species rich habitats across the reserve. Volunteers will also help with livestock checks, undertaking maintenance and running guided walks in the future. The project is also linked to the Revitalising Redesdale landscape scale Heritage lottery fund project.

KICK-STARTING REWILDING

Sheep grazing was removed from the site and all burning ceased to allow vegetation to naturally regenerate. The project team plan to introduce low numbers of native ponies and cattle to extensively graze the site to encourage a mosaic of habitat type and structure. In addition to grazers, some areas of Sitka spruce have been removed from the site to encourage native regeneration. Habitat restoration to the peatland will also be undertaken to include grip blocking – this will restore wetter areas to the peat and repair the current damage.

A small area of the project will continue to be managed for ground nesting birds, including curlew.

Images: Alice McCourt, Colin Leighton, Duncan Hutt

Gallery

Flowering Heather Alice Mc Court
Drone aerials Colin Leighton
Large Heath Ducan Hutt
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary Alice Mc Court

Future Plans

  1. 1 Surveys across the project area continue to understand the site and its wildlife to inform future plans for the project
  2. 2 Continue to link to the Revitalising Redesdale landscape scale project

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