The Town Moor is the biggest green space in Newcastle. As well as being grazed by the Freemen of Newcastle’s cattle, it is a designated Site of Local Conservation Importance and a valuable wildlife corridor.
The moors support red-listed birds, including skylarks and meadow pipits, both of which nest on the ground.
Newcastle City Council last surveyed the site in 2013. Their report highlighted that the ongoing use of fertilisers and herbicides, as well as the introduction of drainage, has significantly reduced the nature conservation value of this site. The ecologist’s report set out that:
“the style of management limits the species diversity. Extension of the woodland plantation areas and the enclosure of cattle and reduction of fertiliser from some sections would greatly diversify the Moor’s wildlife value.”
We have been attempting to engage with both the Freemen and Newcastle City Council to explore ways in which the Town Moor could be better managed to support wildlife and to help meet tree planting, biodiversity and climate targets.
The recent pandemic has seen a surge in the number of people and dogs on the Town Moor, both of which can disturb ground-nesting birds.
We are now calling on Newcastle City Council and the Freemen of Newcastle to engage in discussions around producing a joint management plan to better manage the Town Moors for biodiversity.
Specifically we would like to see:
- more trees and hedgerows in the right places to stop soil erosion, clean the air and provide wildlife habitat
- a reduction in mowing and an end to the use of pesticides to allow wildflowers to thrive and to support pollinators and other insects
- the creation of swales and ponds to reduce flooding and create habitat for amphibians
- breeding bird enclosures and a public awareness campaign to minimise disturbance to ground-nesting birds during the nesting season
- more allotments so more people have the opportunity to grow their own food and improve their physical and mental health
All of these can be acheived without compromising the Freemen’s grazing rights.
You can add your voice to our Transform the Town Moor petition here.