There are 54 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in the Peak District National Park and the area is famed for its nature conservation. Designated by Natural England for their importance to wildlife or geology, they cover the 50,000 hectares of the National Park. Natural England try to seek agreement with local landowners for SSSI’s to be managed to conserve their special qualities, the main threats being overgrazing, fires and air pollution. Climate change is also an important factor to try and maintain the impact on moorland areas.
‘Special Areas of Conservation’ are set up for the South Pennine moors and the Peak District Dales. ‘Special Protection Areas’ apply to the Peak District Moors.
The Peak District National Park has 3 nature reserves, Dovedale (which includes Biggin Dale), The Derbyshire Dales (which consists of five limestone Dales – Cressbrook, Lathkill, Hay, Long and Monk’s) and the Kinder Scout Plateau.
The Peak District is the only place in the world where the Derbyshire the Feather moss grows. Just one square metre of this incredibly rare plant exists in a very secret location and is also home to a number of rare flora and fauna. It is home to one of England’s largest populations of mountain hare and these animals turn white in winter and can reach speeds up to 60 km/h.
Three quarters of the world’s heather moorland is in the United Kingdom and there are around 19,000 hectares in the Peak District, which is of global ecological importance, as heather has many rare and endangered plant and animal species which live amongst it.
There are several species of birds and animals which are at risk – these include lapwing, water vole, curlew and the Derbyshire feather moss. There are also unfortunately habitats at risk including limestone dales, hay meadows, blanket bog and lead rakes.
The National Park authority is primarily responsible for landscape conservation which includes creating conservation areas in villages to protect their architectural and historical value. There are 109 conservation areas in the Peak District and the authority also work with English Heritage to help identify and designate scheduled ancient monuments and listed buildings. Their job is to raise awareness about the importance of historical landscapes. There are 457 scheduled ancient monuments and some 2900 listed buildings within the Peak District National Park.
The Peak District National Park Ranger service is a key point of contact between the National Park Authority, visitors and local people. Their role includes looking after footpaths, caring for wildlife, leading guided walks and helping people enjoy and understand the national Park but they also work with the emergency services, schools to raise awareness with children, disabled groups, ecologists and younger offenders, as well as farmers and landowners.