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North York Moors Falconers club nominated for conservation award
2:51pm Thursday 8th September 2011 in Farming news
A Falconers club based on the North York Moors has been nominated for a top conservation award.
Judges from the Purdey Game and Conservation Awards, an annual competition to find the UK’s best game conservation projects, visited Levisham Estate to see the work carried out by a local group made up from members of the British Falconers’ Club.
In 12 years, the Levisham Moor Conservation and Hawking Group has helped bring about a 20-fold increase in red grouse numbers on the estate, as well as improving the habitat for other birds and wildlife.
Levisham Estate is owned by the North York Moors National Park Authority. Ninety-four percent of the estate is a special site of scientific interest and the majority is also a special protection area for merlin and golden plover.
The Levisham Moor Group took up a sporting tenancy on the estate in 1999 and, through rotational burning and other management of the heather moorland they have improved biodiversity considerably.
Better habitats coupled with predator control has seen curlew, lapwing, skylark, meadow pipit and other moorland birds flourish.
The Levisham Moor Group also works regularly with the National Park Authority to raise awareness of conservation and falconry.
Julian Hepburn, of the Levisham Moor Group, said: “We are delighted that a small group of enthusiastic volunteers giving their time, money and labour for nothing more than a deep love of the environment and wildlife, has achieved recognition from such a prestigious institution as the Purdey award for the Levisham Moor conservation project.
“This nomination will raise public awareness towards the positive, active role which sportsmen such as falconers play in conserving and maintaining the environment and protecting wildlife,” he added.
“We hope that others will be encouraged by this example to take part in conserving, protecting and enjoying the beautiful majesty of the North York Moors.”
Rachel Pickering, the National Park Authority’s farm and moorland officer, added: “The Levisham Moor Group is committed to making lasting improvements to the biodiversity of the moor.
“A few years ago, they created a pond which we have christened Hawkers Pond and they employ a part-time keeper which is a real benefit to the authority as he gives us valuable wildlife reports, as well as carrying out vital management of this sensitive area. It is wonderful to see their efforts rewarded with such a prestigious nomination and I wish them all the best for the ceremony.”
The Purdey Awards will be announced on November 17 at an awards ceremony to be held in London. The awards have been run by the gun maker James Purdey & Sons since 1999.
Falconry is one of the earliest forms of hunting and involves the use of trained, captive-bred birds of prey to hunt game. The British Falconers’ Club was founded in 1927, has around 1,400 members and is the oldest and largest falconry club in Europe.