The Living Uplands project was first created as a means to focus attention on the sixth most endangered bird in the UK, the iconic Black Grouse. The Black Grouse are best known for the males gathering on what is known as a ‘lek’, particularly in April and May, to display their feathers to attract a mate.
The process of gathering information on the Black Grouse made it obvious that its story lies within a rich and diverse balance of nature – habitat, climate, food and life cycle – and that there is a bigger story to tell about the Upland of Weardale.
Living Uplands is working towards a full resource that provides the big picture of what makes the Upland landscape so special and important:
- The geology beneath that helps to shape the land above;
- The water, the hydrology, that brings life and shape to the landscape;
- The flora and vegetation that changes as the Uplands rise above the lower farmland.
- The fauna that makes Uplands richly covered in special and distinct, and many endangered, species;
- and finally, the Life of the Uplands, the climate and weather, the people and places that provide community and character to this corner of England.
The expansion of Living Uplands is already underway, with two important projects.
Along with the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) Living Uplands will be creating new resource that explain the unique maze caves of The North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark, featuring the Fairy Holes of Upper Weardale.
In collaboration with Durham Wildlife Trust, Living Uplands is supporting a project studying “source to sea” of water from the Uplands, with particular attention to plastics entering the system from Wearhead to Sunderland.
Meantime, Living Uplands offers a suite of educational resource materials featuring the Black Grouse as a means of bring attention of all aspects of Uplands nature. Further materials will be added as the project expands.
Teachers and educators have access to a FREE cross-curricular education pack. This offers schools the opportunity to bring nature into their classrooms. through the drama of the Black Grouse lek. This project links directly to Keystage 1 & 2 curriculum and is an effective way to enhance Science and Literacy skills, and to promote pupil creativity and confidence. The range of materials cover habitat, adaptation, food chain and life cycle. There are pictures and videos, and occasional blog pieces on life on the landscape of Upper Weardale.
Durham Wildlife Trust is keen to see this project develop further, and schools’ feedback on the current education pack will be invaluable in developing future materials.
Durham Wildlife Trust would like to thank the farm owner who has made this project possible. For the security of the local Black Grouse population that partner remains anonymous.