Burbage valley makeover planned for 2013

Posted by Ed Douglas on 05/03/2013
Access rep Henry Folkard joins members of the Sheffeld Moor Partnership. Back row: Jim Dixon, CEO of the Peak District NPA, Peter Robertson of the RSPB, John Mothersole, CEO of Sheffield City Council, Rebecca Speight of the National Trust, Tom Moat of Natural England. Front row, next to Folkard: Prof Sir John Lawton, Richard Benyon, MP, and Liz Ballard of Sheffield Wildlife Trust.
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Under the Sheffield Moors Partnership, key conservation bodies, landowners and local authorities with support from the BMC have joined forces to offer a long-term strategy for some of the Peak District’s most iconic landscapes. Next up is the Burbage valley, which, as Ed Douglas reports, could soon be transformed.

I’m standing on top of Burbage West, as local boulderers call it, braced against a cold easterly while I peruse a photograph from the early 1970s. Veteran access campaigner Terry Howard, who is standing next to me, took the image as a young man. It shows the Burbage valley sprinkled with conifer seedlings that have since grown into the oppressively dense and alien woodland at its base – a dead heart in the middle of this hugely popular scrap of wild on the edge of Sheffield.

Ted Talbot, woodlands manager at Sheffield City Council, is explaining a little of the woodland’s history, how no one can recall quite why it was planted, and how there was never the budget to thin it properly, causing the understory to die off. The planting scheme, he says, created an outline map of the British Isles. ‘But Cornwall failed pretty early,’ he says, pointing out where the southwest should have been, somewhere below Carl Wark.

Now Talbot is leading a project to remove almost all these conifers and, over time, turn the valley into something more like Padley Gorge, the ancient oak woodland a mile or so downstream that ends at Grindleford. There’s a lot of consultation to be done, and interested parties to persuade, but it’s Talbot’s hope that work will begin in September and the woodland will be gone by December.

The plan will affect climbers. The southern end of the Green Drive will be closed midweek while the timber is cut and the footpath diverted. But it will re-open at weekends, and access to the area’s outstanding climbing won’t be affected. Talbot says the woods have become a popular all-night party venue and fires are frequently lit. With the dead understory, the woods could be on borrowed time anyway.

Regenerating Burbage is just one element of a long-term 15-year strategy for the moors around Sheffield that the BMC is pleased to support. Although the Sheffield Moors Partnership isn’t involved in the day-to-day running of estates, it brings together key landowners and managers to find a common path for the future covering conservation and broader ecological services, as well as recreation and access, interpretation and education.

The project has been running for almost three years now, and on Monday Defra minister Richard Benyon spoke at an event to celebrate SMP’s progress and launch its ‘masterplan’. Benyon, widely known for his shooting interest, seemed genuinely supportive of SMP’s aims and congratulated it on ‘its fantastic work so far. Keep doing it, you should be immensely proud of what you’ve achieved.’

BMC access rep Henry Folkard was also invited to speak, an acknowledgement of how important the outdoor community are to the plan’s success. ‘With the launch of the masterplan,’ Folkard told the minister and invited guests, ‘all aspects of management of the moors, and the economical delivery of the ecosystem services they provide, are given common purpose. We can conceive a landscape where people and conservation are complementary.’

This grand vision will be under scrutiny later this month, as plans for the future management of Stanage, part of the SMP, continue to develop. On 22 March, Peak District National Park Authority officers will give outline suggestions for developing the commercial opportunities at Stanage.

The farm lease at North Lees is up for renewal in September, and the PDNPA is considering including the campsite as part of the farm to improve its commercial appeal. But with reforms planned for EU farming and conservation subsidies, it remains to be seen how well the commercialisation of Stanage will fit with the long-term strategy of the Stanage Moors Partnership.
 



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7
1) Anonymous User
05/03/2013
Can someone make sure the tree farmers (foresters) don't leave the place looking like the Somme.
Timber harvesting done by the usual muppets will ruin the valley
2) Anonymous User
11/03/2013
Would be better to just get one man and a chainsaw (ok two because of h&s) and just let them go there every day for a year until it's all knocked down. No need to take the trees away really. Of course someone wants the wood for money don't they!
3) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
// management of the moors, and the economical delivery of the ecosystem services they provide, are given common purpose.//

Can we have sub-titles, please, in english.
4) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
What fantastic news - It will be great to witness the removal of one of the many scars inflicted on the Peak District landscape by dense, man-made, coniferous woodlands. Let's hope that the follow-up landscaping is carried out promptly, and that it incorporates a public footpath following the stream. I look forward to walking it! JBH
5) Anonymous User
19/03/2013
when timber extraction has been compleated,can the track through the valley be up rated to bridle path status as it is only footpath at present .A very good link from Stanage to Houndkirk and beyond tony hood
6) Anonymous User
12/07/2014
Disgusting behaviour. Why not just leave the trees alone
7) Anonymous User
08/10/2016
Selfish bastards, that plantation was beautiful, i have grown up with it, spent many an happy hour walking alongside it, walking through it, sitting by it, who are you lot to decide that this wonderful plantation should have been destroyed, disgusting behaviour, shame on you all

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