#HabitatHeroes Pioneers from the Peak District National Park

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The Peak District National Park in central England is full of diverse landscapes and home to many rare species. It is for example the only place in England where mountain hares can be found. Read about how the Habitat Heroes are looking after the Park’s natural treasure.

Meet our #HabitatHeroes: Junior Rangers of the Peak District National Park

The Peak District National Park runs six Junior Ranger groups. They collected comments from different participants across the different groups and merged them into one case study for the Habitat Heroes campaign.

Tell us all about your “natural treasure”: Which is the species or habitat you learn and work with the most in your Protected Area?

The Peak District landscape is full of natural treasures! In the south of the park, the limestone geology creates amazing rock formations, caves, and provides perfect soil for hay meadows rich in wildflowers. In the North, there are bogs and heather moorland. The heather turns the whole hills purple in summer, and the moorland vegetation makes ideal nesting conditions for ground nesting birds like curlews and grouse.

The park is surrounded by cities so there is a lot of pressure on our natural environment, so it’s important to take care of it!

We are also very lucky to have populations of mountain hares – the only place in England they can be found! These are different from brown hares as they change colour in winter, their fur turning white for camouflage.

The moorlands are a very sensitive environment, and are often damaged by fire (including a hige one last summer that burned for three weeks), so it’s very important that we look after them. In the valleys across the park, there are ancient woodlands, home to many rare bird and plant species.

Junior Rangers exploring the moorland in the Peak District National Park

What are you and your fellow Junior Rangers doing (or will do) to learn more and protect your natural treasure? Do you also teach others?

In the Peak District we have 6 junior ranger groups. Our work varies depending on location, as there are different habitats in the different parts of the park! We all learn practical conservation tasks, as well as navigation and bushcraft skills, and help engage other people with the park at events.

Longdendale Junior rangers group have our own woodland area to look after; this year we have planted new trees, coppiced old ones and have built benches using recycled railway sleepers. We have also helped run a community event in the woodlands for local families, running activities such as minibeast hunting and den building to share our knowledge.

Willow Tit nest box, Junior Ranger Peak District.

We are also inspired by exploring the surrounding hills and moorlands: this year, we have taken expeditions on to the local moors to search for mountain hares, survey peat depth and vegetation, and see the damage caused by the Saddleworth Fire of 2018.

Next year, we’re hoping to build on our skills, with activities to include nest box building, dry stone walling and sphagnum moss planting to help the restoration of peat bogs. The group at Edale have already been working on replanting sphagnum plugs in their own area.

At Marsh Farm, our Junior Rangers group have been focused on helping the Willow Tit, a rare and declining bird that lives in the woodlands around the site. They have surveyed the birds, learnt more about their lives and built nest boxes lined with sawdust to attract them. Some of the nest boxes have been used this year, which is great news!

What do you find tricky being a Junior Ranger – and what is the best thing about it?

What do our Junior rangers find tricky? Some of them say they have found it difficult to balance their school work with coming out at weekends to be part of junior rangers, and others find that rural transport is difficult. Some of our older junior rangers have said they worry about where they will be able to go once they are too old for the groups, so we are looking at developing a follow-on group for young conservationists in the age 18-25.

Our Junior rangers think the best things about it are meeting other people like them, learning new skills and getting chance to explore!

Learn more and keep track of #HabitatHeroes campaign activities!

Since 2018 we are “mapping the field” and raising awareness for the great work Junior Ranger groups are currently doing for threatened flora, fauna and habitats in Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites in particular.

  • Visit the “Habitat Heroes” campaign website: For now, we are thrilled to introduce you to our Habitat Hero campaign pioneers – groups already taking action. You will find a growing map and overview of Junior Ranger groups.
  • Besides, you will meet our “Habitat Heroes” in dedicated articles – make sure you follow our news!
  • Keep an eye on social media – the #HabitatHeroes will provide you with exciting updates from our Junior Ranger groups that take part in the campaign. Don’t forget to share their actions!

Want to join the campaign? We are happy to learn about your conservation action – just drop us a mail: [email protected]

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