COUNTRYSIDE campaigners have pledged to maintain conservation efforts for the South Pennine moors - after the end of a three-year campaign.

The £3 million Watershed Landscape initiative has reaped a number of rewards for East Lancashire since its inception in 2010.

The efforts of supporters were recognised when the Watershed project was named one of the country’s leading environmental project and then qualified to win a European cultural heritage award.

Acres of hay meadow were created near Burnley and across the moors near Bacup to help bolster efforts to preserve threatened bird species the Pennine finch, otherwise known as the twite, with the co-operation of local landowners and farmers.

Ambitious plans for a £300,000 mountain bike trail around Hurstwood Reservoir became a reality, and will be managed by regeneration agency Pennine Prospects.

And an industrial history and geology trail was created across Todmorden Moor, as part of a scheme entitled Riches of the Earth, which also had Heritage Lottery Fund backing.

The three-year heritage drive aimed to give practical support to a diverse area which had inspired the Brontes, Ted Hughes and Henry Moore.

Proposals to carry on Watershed’s legacy have already been put in place by Pennine Prospects – including capitalising on the Tour de France as it skirts the edge of Todmorden in July.

Agency bosses also say they aim to focus on natural resources between Burnley, Bacup, Milnrow, Marsden, Huddersfield and Hebden Bridge.

Project manager Robin Gray said Pennine Prospects would look to develop the South Pennine Local Nature Partnership and establish a new regeneration programme.

He said: “During 2014 we will celebrate our woodland heritage, work closer with landowners and farmers and protect our natural resources.

“And then there is the Tour de France coming to the South Pennines in July, which will be a big boost.”