From Buxton to the Borders – £7m Government grant allows new moorland conservation work to get underway

A new injection of Government cash will help support the restoration of England’s iconic peatlands.

Two successful bids in the north will fund peatland conservation from the Peak District to the Scottish border. The vast project area spans almost 4,200 hectares; the same size as more than 6,700 football pitches.

Northern greenhouse

A panel of experts and Defra officials assessed the projects and awarded the funding based on the value to wildlife and the potential for carbon capture. The fundamental work will contribute to the UK’s climate change goals by helping the peatland landscape to lock in carbon, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

Defra has allocated a total of £10million between four peat restoration projects in England, including over £7.4million to two in the north:

  • The North of England peat partnership, led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, will restore 394 hectares of lowland raised bog and 1,679 hectares of blanket bog across 21 peatland sites.

Dr Tim Thom, Peat Programme Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to see peatlands on the Government’s agenda and getting the recognition they deserve – both in terms the benefits they bring and the parlous condition we have let so many of them reach.

“This funding will enable us to restore some of the most important and beautiful sites across the north– from England’s largest lowland raised bog in South Yorkshire all the way up to Northumberland’s highest point near the Scottish border.”

  • Moors for the Future Partnership will deliver conservation work on seven sites, in the Moor Carbon project, covering more than 2,100 hectares of blanket bog peatlands.

The Partnership hopes to venture into new territory; into the newly-designated West Pennine Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as well as across the Peak District National Park and South Pennines. It will invite stakeholders in moorland areas stretching from Buxton in the Peak District National Park, to near Burnley in Lancashire, to become part of this project.

Chris Dean, Head of Programme Delivery at Moors for the Future Partnership commented: “Our peatlands are wild places that mean so much to so many people.  We will use these strong emotions and attachments as a guide to carrying out this conservation work.  We look forward to working together in partnership with other organisations across the north of England, to ensure that generations to come can benefit from and enjoy our amazing blanket bogs.”

Carbon capture

The work will ensure that more than 14,700 tonnes of carbon per year is locked down into the blanket bog moors… the same amount of carbon as an average car driving non-stop for over 65 years!

Peatlands across northern England have been badly degraded by decades of industrial pollution and wildfires. Acid rain and wildfire has killed off vital bog-mosses called Sphagnum, leaving the peat beneath bare and exposed.

On healthy peatlands, special plants help the peat to suck in carbon out of the air, like trees do. But when the peat is bare, carbon is released into the atmosphere.  The conservation work taking place will help to make a big difference to the UK’s target; to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% of its 1990 levels by 2050.

 To do list…

To achieve this ambitious goal, conservation works across the 28 moors will protect areas of bare peat and allow moorland plants to flourish. The new plant life will help the peat to store carbon, and provide a vital habitat to special animals.

Steps will also be taken to make the moors wet again, by constructing dams to trap water. This will help to stop peat being carried off the hills by rainwater into streams and reservoirs; reducing water treatment costs for utility companies before it flows into taps at homes and businesses throughout northern England.

The stone dams will also help to increase the water level – known as the water table – on the moors, to support plant and animal life, and reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

ENDS

Healthy peat moors:

  • provide a unique habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
  • absorb and store carbon – peat is   the single biggest store of carbon in the UK, storing the equivalent of 20 years of all UK CO2 emissions and keeping it out of the atmosphere.
  • provide good quality drinking water – 70% of our drinking water comes from these landscapes. Damaged peat erodes into the reservoirs so that water companies have to spend more money cleaning the water for consumption.
  • potentially help reduce the risk of flooding.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust leads the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, or YPP; an umbrella organisation also comprising Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Natural England, North York Moors National Park Authority, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency.

It receives support from Nidderdale AONB, Pennine Prospects, Environment Agency, National Trust, Moorland Association, National Farmers Union and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. The aim of the partnership is to restore and conserve upland peat resources in order to ensure the long-term future these unique and valuable habitats.

Moors for the Future Partnership has been working since 2003 to protect the most degraded landscape in Europe. Using innovative conservation techniques it has transformed over 32 sq km of black degraded peat in the Peak District National Park and South Pennines. A monitoring programme provides evidence of the effectiveness of these techniques and is backed up by innovative communications that inspire people to care for these special places.

The work of the partnership is delivered by the Moors for the Future staff team through the Peak District National Park Authority as the lead and accountable body. It is supported through its partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England, National Trust, RSPB, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Pennine Prospects and representatives of the moorland owner and farming community.

Moorland sites within the Peak District National Park boundary:

  • Noe Stool – owned by the National Trust on Kinder Scout above Edale, Derbyshire. The famous Pennine Way walking route passes through this moor
  • Thurlston moor – forms a small part of a much larger site, just off the A628 route near Dunford Bridge in South Yorkshire
  • Stalybridge and Alphin Pike moor – above Stalybridge and Mossley in Greater Manchester, near RSPB’s Dove Stone nature reserve
  • Combs Moss – just off the A5004 Long Hill route from Buxton to Whaley Bridge, enjoyed by climbers and hikers.

Chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, Sarah Fowler, said: “As well as carbon storage, this innovative partnership project will provide a wealth of benefits to both people and animals. Work will help to improve the quality of the water that we consume; and enhance the precious home of rare birds and mammals. Bare peat re-vegetation and blocking eroded gullies on the moors will help to slow the flow of water when it rains; reducing the threat of flooding in local at-risk communities.”

Karen Shelley-Jones is Manager of the South West Peak Landscape Partnership, which works to restore, protect and improve the landscape of the South West Peak (including areas of the High Peak, Stockport, Leek, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield).

From Buxton to the Borders – £7m Government grant allows new moorland conservation work to get underway Karen said: “It’s great to see further investment in the South West Peak. The work that the Moor Carbon project could carry out at Combs Moss will link directly with our Slowing the Flow project – grant aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Environment Agency. This project employs Natural Flood Management techniques to help reduce downstream flooding.”

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