INTERNATIONALLY famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough has praised a group of Saddleworth volunteers planning to patrol moorland to help prevent wildfires.

More than 100 people have signed up to a countryside marshal scheme to protect Dovestone Reservoir and surrounding Saddleworth Moor area this summer.

Jessica Moreland, president of the fledgling Dovestone WI wrote to Sir David outlining the devastating problems surrounding fires that made national headlines.

In her letter she said: "The harm to nesting birds, heather, wildlife and grazing ewes through the lambing season, has been catastrophic.

“The Women's Institute has always taken rural issues very seriously, launching national resolutions such as Save the Bee campaign and Keep Britain Tidy.

“The more fires we experience, the more helpless we feel as a community. Furthermore, the pressure our local Fire Service and Mountain Rescue are under to keep our wildlife and us safe is mounting.

“We are launching a volunteer marshal scheme to patrol and protect the moorlands in and around our community and also Dovestone National Park. It will be like a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme for the countryside!

“There has been huge support for this plan, gathering over 100 volunteers and The Moorlands Communities Trust is also working alongside us to follow our progress.”

She added: “I just wanted to let you know we are doing our very best to look after our little chunk of the world... I hope it reassures you that we feel the same about our planet as you do.

“And if you're ever up in the Peak District area, specifically Saddleworth, you should let us know, we can show you our work. You'll be sure of a true W.I. welcome with tea and cake.”

In a hand-written response to the group Sir David described the scheme as a "most valuable initiative" and wished them every success.

Dovestone WI have joined forces with Greenfield Neighbourhood Crimewatch Group and are working on plans for a launch in June.