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Brotherly love helps safeguard landscape.

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Brothers Mike and John Howes and a Lake District beauty spot were made for each other.

The Howes own 145 acres of Tarn Hows, and are determined to protect and enhance its nature value.

Now they have won an award from English Nature for their efforts in managing the rare basin and valley bogs and surrounding wildlife habitats on their land.

The award scheme for sites of special scientific interest recognises outstanding efforts by landowners and managers of SSSI around the country.

The basin and valley bogs at Tarn Hows SSSI, near Hawkshead, have developed in natural hollows created at the end of the last Ice Age.

The land was bought by the brothers' surgeon grandfather before the First World War.

They inherited it in 1996 and last year their farming tenant retired.

Mike, a documentary film maker, said: "We are absolutely passionate about the land. It has been lucky because it has been under-grazed for years and there has been little drainage. There are more than 65 types of wild flowers on the land plus newts, butterflies and ground nesting birds and we want to preserve this mosaic of species."

The hollows contain peat formed over many hundreds of years and with only 3pc of peatlands left globally, they are especially important.

Sphagnum mosses dominate the vegetation, intermingling in hues of greens, oranges and red.

Amid the mosses grows bog rosemary, cranberry, bog asphodel and sundew. Other plants include cotton grass and heather.

Where the peat is flushed by water emerging from adjacent mineral soils, the vegetation is dominated by tall sedges, common butterwort and grass of Parnassus.

The Howes look after the basin mire habitat within the SSSI by making sure no fertiliser is used on the land. They have also cleared bracken from surrounding areas of grassland and heathland providing foraging areas and a supply of insects for great crested newts and bats and nesting areas for skylarks.

Presenting the Howes with their award Andy Brown, English Nature chief executive, said: "Without the help of individual landowners like the Howes, the immense task of safeguarding sites of special scientific would be impossible. What they have managed to achieve is an example to us all."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 5, 2003
Words:371
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