The Philip Wayre Upland Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to restoring and protecting upland habitat and species in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to benefit in particular black grouse and breeding waders.
Its founder, Philip Wayre, deliberately chose to acquire two upland sites badly neglected and overgrazed in order to return them to their original landscape and thus increase and improve the mosaic of habitat. With careful and sensitive long-term management the Trust aims to restore heather and dwarf shrub, woodland pockets, wetland habitat and to improve the upland hay meadows.
Black grouse, an endangered species, are found on Lintzgarth and Thornhope. By creating woodland areas on both sites the Trust aims to increase the numbers and maintain the existing leks, well-established display areas to which the male grouse or Blackcocks gather at dawn to display to the Greyhens.
The declining numbers of upland wading birds are of particular concern. The waders spend the winter on the mudflats and saltings of coastal areas but return to the high moors for breeding. They are therefore absent for much of the year, from the time the young have fledged and become strong on the wing in August to the following March or early April when the birds return to breed. Improved farmland and moorland edge are important feeding areas for curlew and lapwing. High altitude blanket-bogs are important for dunlin and golden plover. Damp upland meadows with low levels of grazing are used by ground nesting waders. Areas of rush vegetation provide important cover and food for nests and chicks as well as the drumming snipe in the spring.
The Trust is improving the moss layer and diversity of dwarf shrub to enhance the capability of the sites to catch and retain carbon. Bare peat releases carbon as it erodes. By reintroducing native plant species and sphagnum moss sphagnum, a key peat-building plant, the Trust is helping improve and stabilize the upland peatland as well as habitat for key bird species which are dependent on blanket bog such as golden plover and dunlin.
Hay meadows are being restored to increase the richness of wild flowers providing a source of nectar and useful habitat for butterflies and other invertebrates. The Trust, working with Natural England, manages the grazing on the hay meadows to protect and improve the diversity of vegetation and return the ecosystem to a valuable and useful resource.
The Trust works closely with other conservation organizations particularly the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Woodland Trust and Natural England. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Black Grouse Recovery Project monitors black grouse annually on both sites and has made an enormous contribution to the recovery of black grouse. Data shared by all interested organizations and the general public benefits future generations and demonstrates the importance of protecting upland species, flora and fauna. Further data will be available on the Trust’s website from a network of cameras being set up on both sites to record wildlife activity throughout the year.