Menu
 
Home | News | Moor nationally important: Botanist says people need to take direct control of site to secure its future
 
News | 13th June 2019
 

Moor nationally important: Botanist says people need to take direct control of site to secure its future

 
 
 

Chris Miles, the former area manager of Scottish Natural Heritage in Dumfries and Galloway, knows Langholm Moor well, partly through his job with the organisation and as a botanist.
Chris is the chairman of the board of trustees at the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and is the county recorder for Dumfriesshire. He runs the Dumfriesshire Botany Group.
The E&L Advertiser asked him to write an article about the moor from the point of view of its ecological interest and its importance as a designated environment.

LANGHOLM Moor: Why it needs a secure future.
The Langholm moorland covers the hills between Langholm and Newcastleton.
It is a predominantly open, wild landscape rising to just over 560m or 1,800 feet on the rounded ridge of Roan Fell. The broad open hill plateau contrasts with the steep slopes around its edges.
The hills are cut by deeply-eroded watercourses, like the Dinley Burn and the Tarras Water.
The underlying rocks are complex and the central hills overlain by deposits of boulder clay laid down by past ice ages on which extensive peat has developed.
The underlying rock comes to the surface on the steeper slopes such as below Arkleton Hill. It is this complexity, together with a high rainfall, which gives rise to a particularly wide variety of upland habitats.
Consequently, there is a particularly wide variety of typical plant communities, both on the moorland and in the steep-sided cleughs.
In the lower sections of these watercourses some native woodland can be found, mainly of birch, alder and willow, along with rare fragments of aspen, as at Tarras and below Cronksbank.
The vegetation types include blanket bog, typified by cotton grass and cloudberry on the highest areas where drainage is poor.
On the better drained slopes heather heath is dominated by ling, blaeberry and bell heather and in other places bracken and acidic grasslands are dominated by mat-grass and fescue.
Enriched
Extensive areas of purple moor grass occur on shallower slopes lower down.
Over many of the mid and lower slopes the complex of cleughs, burns, sikes, springs and flushes are enriched by water seeping through the boulder clay.
These are botanically exciting with patches of species-rich grassland, with the likes of northern marsh and common spotted orchids, grass of Parnassus, marsh valerian and quaking grass.
More than 250 species of flowering plants and ferns are known, including several rare and locally-scarce species.
The moor also supports a diverse population of breeding moorland birds which include black and red grouse as well as nine species of wader and six raptor species. It also has a wild goat population.
A large part of the hill ground is included in the Langholm-Newcastleton Hills Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a Special Protection Area (SPA).
The SSSI is of national importance for the mix of upland habitat types, the number of breeding birds and the presence of breeding hen harrier.
The further designation as an SPA is because the site supports more than one per cent of the UK’s breeding hen harriers.
Historically, the site has been managed as grouse moor and for hill farming.
This meant people were present to undertake management of the bracken, grassland and heather through grazing and burning and some control of predators of ground-nesting birds.
There is a delicate balance between burning and grazing which does not lead to the loss of heather and the conservation interests.
Habitat
The owners have worked with others to try to improve the habitat and raise the numbers of red grouse.
In the 1990s Langholm Moor was the main study area for the Joint Raptor Study (JRS) which looked at the relationship between predatory birds and grouse.
The moorland debate is around the premise that grouse and raptors cannot co-exist, leading to the lack of protected species, notably hen harrier on grouse moorland.
When the JRS ended, grouse shooting ceased at Langholm but hen harrier and grouse numbers continued to decline.
In recent years it has been realised that the hill had become grassier and a substantial area of heather had been lost.
Fantastic
In 2008 a new attempt to address the grouse raptor issue began with the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. This ended in 2018 and has yet to publish its final report and conclusions which are due this year.
Langholm Moor is a fantastic place for nature and, consequently, for people.
It provides the context for the Langholm and Newcastleton communities and their futures are, to some extent, tied to the future of the moorland.
The moorland provides many natural services, capturing carbon, regulating water flow, safeguarding a rich mix of wildlife, dramatic scenery and many recreation opportunities.
While the SSSI gives some assurance that land use cannot change dramatically, the only way communities can be certain about the future for the moors is if they take more direct control over how the site develops from now on.
Given the moor’s prominence in debates about upland management, I am sure that, if they take this step, they will find some willing partners to work with.

 
 
Would you like to support us?

The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser is our community owned local newspaper and even in today’s troubled times, we aim to bring you local news and articles in an impartial, responsible and factual way.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this free article but we need your support so we can keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent and keeps you up to date with what is happening in Eskdale and Liddesdale.

Every reader’s contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to us.
 
 
‘Owned by the Community...Published for the Community’
Do you have a story?

Please get in touch if you have a story or article you would like to see published.

Related Articles

Time is running out to buy town’s moorland

It’s a race to the finish as deadline of October…

 

Day of reckoning

EWM chain’s future is in doubt if group’s owner saves…

 

Flood Scheme Forum

RESIDENTS living in riverside properties in Langholm have voiced their…

 

Langholm Loves Local launched

LANGHOLM is bouncing back with a new initiative to make…

 

New coronavirus rules will not help industry

Hotel owner criticises Scottish government for unclear message

 

Pandemic infects iconic retail brand

More unemployment as Day puts EWM Group in administration

 

Villagers welcome a 20mph limit trial

Newcastleton’s streets will be safer for pedestrians and drivers

 

EWM TO CLOSE 200 STORES IN NEXT FORTNIGHT

24,000 Jobs are at risk

 

Village sewage works due to open next spring

Canonbie and the River Esk will benefit from better treatment

 

Housing developer is ready to move onto site

Plan put in for initial works, including improved A7 junction

 

Rescued mill has new name and big plans

Drove Weavers in Langholm earns praise and admiration from MSP

 

Digital skills project is launched in Langholm

Older people, young people and low-income families targeted

 

Flood protection order delayed by fresh study

Environmental impact assessment will take six months to do

 

Team appointed to regenerate Copshaw

Development officer to lead transformation of Buccleuch House

 

Four more defibrillators go live

FOUR more defibrillators have been installed as part of a…

 

Centre design rethink after public response

And council calls for extra study after identifying flood risk

 

Village completes historic land buy-out

Newcastleton trust buys 750 acres of Holm Hill from Buccleuch

 

Scottish actor appeals for donations to moor

Gregor has good memories of raising his family in Langholm

 

Dyehouse cuts ten jobs as orders dry up

COVID-19 pandemic hits successful company’s customers

 

Plan launched to make south a greater place

Enterprise body to make area centre for opportunity, innovation and…

 

Volunteers needed to drive community car

New Caddy will be used to transport residents to appointments

 

Another million given to moorland buyout

South of Scotland Enterprise give huge boost to venture

 

Centre bids for funding to survive the long term

Langholm’s popular performing arts venue is vital to economy

 

Academy’s head pupils

LANGHOLM and Canonbie Schools Cluster is delighted to announce the…

 

Church reopens for worship

By the Rev Dr. Robert Pickles

 

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!

Artists impression of how proposed flood defences may look

 

£500k boost for moor

Family foundation breathes new life into bid for nature reserve

 

Langholm’s last mill has a brighter future

Well-known designer will create jobs and establish new brand

 

Nicol’s enterprising role to regenerate town

Former Langholm man will deliver Langholm’s action plan

 

Dance scholar rewarded

A PERFORMING arts student from Langholm has won a coveted…

 

Centre announces an August reopening

Coffees and lunches are back on the menu – at…

 

Canonbie surgery

A CONFIDENTIAL online consultation service giving patients another way to…

 

Town is a high priority

Langholm does not rank the lowest in an index based…

 

MARVELLOUS!

IT WAS dark when three horsemen were greeted by a…

 

Neighbourly celebrations

MOODLAW Point and Henry Street South neighbours gathered on Jennety’s…

 

Neighbourly celebrations

THE neighbours in Academy Place and Douglas Terrace could not…

 

Partnership secures £2.1m for the south

Scottish government awards funding to 28 innovative projects

 

Jobless warning

JUNE’S unemployment figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’…

 

Weaving company’s future in the balance

Management buy-out team seeks to progress talks with owner

 

Defibs are going live

Life-saving equipment will come with full instructions on use

 
Surgery Tour 2020
 
requires mailchimp logins and wired up to a list
Join our mailing list
Keep up to date with all that’s going on at the E&L
This site uses cookies.
Configure
 
Read our privacy policy

This site uses cookies for marketing, personalisation, and analysis purposes. You can opt out of this at any time or view our full privacy policy for more information.