The project encourages people to get into the South Pennines landscape. Photo: Steve Morgan

The project encourages people to get into the South Pennines landscape. Photo: Steve Morgan

A scheme promoting the moorland areas around northern England’s conurbations has won a top national award.

The Watershed Landscape project beat its competitors to win the biennial UK Landscape Awards.

The three-year project has played a key role in protecting and enhancing the natural and historic features of the South Pennines and encouraging people to get involved with their landscape, through improved physical access and activities and events, including an innovative arts programme.

It will now go forward to compete in the European Landscape Awards 2013.

Pam Warhurst, chair of Pennine Prospects, the rural regeneration organisation that manages the project, said: “Everyone here is absolutely thrilled to have the South Pennines Watershed Landscape project representing the UK in the European finals.

“This wild and wonderful landscape offers us all opportunities to connect with our ancestors and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits for today but also prepare for the future as the peat resources here are the front line in our battle against climate change.

“We’d like to thank all our partners, who have worked with us to make this possible. The wide range of activities and events that we’ve organised as part of this project has helped to raise awareness on a number of different levels, from improving access to the uplands to getting people to think differently about their landscape.”

The Watershed Landscape project has improved almost 2km of drystone walling, ensured the completion of more than 100ha (247 acres) of wildflower restoration.

Laying a path across the South Pennine moors as part of the project

Laying a path across the South Pennine moors as part of the project

There have been more than 50 training days held with more than 350 people attending, 50 funded events with partner organisations held, seven exhibitions organised in museums, galleries and a shop window and the creation of 2.5ha (6 acres) of new upland oak woodlands in the last three years.

The project has recently been voted the runner-up in the National Lottery Awards, beating hundreds of projects from around the country to make it to the final to be televised live on Saturday, 8 December.

The award was jointly organised by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland and was open to landscape projects of all sizes and types.

The UK winner in 2010, the Durham Heritage Coast, was a runner-up in the European Landscape Award 2011.

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