A REPORT by the Moorland Association has warned that, despite the success of its uplands regeneration project, there is still much more to be done.

The Northern Uplands Moorland Regeneration Project report says that over 370,665 acres of heather moorland have been saved and improved by the actions of private landowners and tenant farmers in the North through a three-year Objective 5b programme.

During the project, moorland management plans for 45 estates, incorporating 65 farms, were drawn up and implemented by a dedicated team.

This, says the report, helped farmers and landowners integrate agriculture, sporting and environmental objectives, increase farm incomes, improve job opportunities in rural areas and enhance the upland moorland environment.

The report says the regeneration project directly stimulated and grant-aided biodiversity improvements on more than 214,466 acres of moorland

It also brought into management a further 69,710 acres through countryside stewardship and wildlife enhancement schemes - in total, an area over double the size of the North York Moors national park.

It also claims to have:

* created 18 full-time rural sustainable jobs;

* safeguarded 172 farming jobs and 49 moorland keepering positions and generated five part-time jobs;

* created 2,845 extra days of casual labour - mainly through increased grouse shooting days - and protected a further 15,000 casual days' labour;

* brought in £1.7m of private landowner investment.

However, the association claims that there are still over one million acres - over half of the area of uplands in England and Wales - in a degraded state.

In addition, those areas with heather moorland in good condition now could come under threat without continued investment and care.

Association chairman Simon Bostock said: "The results of this short-term project are both impressive and very encouraging, but it will take at least ten years to restore our more degraded heather uplands. Hence, we are calling for a ten-year vision with clear targets for our uplands."

He added: "We now call upon the Government and their agencies to build upon the experience of the regeneration project to secure the future of existing heather moorland and breathe sustainable life back into the swathes that are seriously damaged.