Moorland restoration update

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 07/12/2020
Photo: Moors for the Future

Our charity partners for The Climate Project, Moors for the Future, give us their latest update on how the project is doing and remind us of the importance of sphagnum for combatting the climate crisis and peatland restoration. Moors for the Future Officer Alice Learey explains.

To many of us, moorlands are our local wilderness. An ethereal, boggy wilderness to explore, to run, climb, bike, hike and to stop, to breathe in the space. Not only do these landscapes offer a unique adventure, they have a huge global influence on our lives with their ability to store carbon. Our local moorlands in the Peak District and South Pennines are mostly peatlands, layers and layers of carbon-rich peat that have formed over some thousands of years.

Peat is the single biggest store of carbon in the UK, storing the equivalent of 20 years of all UK carbon dioxide emissions and keeping it out of the atmosphere. These incredible resources depend on a key peat-building plant in particular, sphagnum moss.

Why are our moors so damaged? 

Our local peatlands have been unable to support sphagnum for hundreds of years, dating back to the Industrial Revolution, and are counted amongst the most degraded upland landscapes in Europe. Pollution from the Industrial Revolution, coal smoke in particular pumped out from nearby factories, was carried across the moors and stripped the living bog layer from the peat as it killed off the sphagnum moss. You may have come across vast expanses of exposed, black soil. This is bare peat, and it is bad news. Without a protective layer of plants covering the surface, peat is vulnerable to erosion. As it erodes, peat releases carbon back into the atmosphere, blown away in the wind and washed downstream into waterways and giving the water its recognisable shade of brown.

Globally, 25% of peatlands have been destroyed and, in the UK, at least 80% are damaged. In the Peak District and South Pennines, Moors for the Future Partnership has been working to restore the moorlands to healthy peatlands, keeping carbon locked-up, since 2003. We work as a Partnership on a landscape-scale to bring life back to damaged, degraded peatlands by re-wetting the moors.

A healthy blanket bog should be carpeted in a thick lustrous layer of sphagnum moss, that decays from the base to build peat, and continues growing from the tip. Sphagnum moss has an impressive capacity to absorb water, holding up to 20 times its weight in water. It is this unrivalled feature that helps to maintain an all-important high water table, and gifts bogs with that characteristic wobble – and subsequent wet feet! Therefore, a large part of the restoration work across the peatlands is focussed on creating the right – wetter – conditions for sphagnum moss to gain a firmer foothold back on our moors.

ACTION: How is the BMC tackling Climate Change?

Replanting sphagnum moss on the moors is the very last step in our conservation works. Sphagnum is re-introduced by planting by hand small plants the size of a 50p coin, known as ‘plugs’. On average, one sphagnum moss plug plant can grow to the size of a dinner plate in around three months. Our vision is for these plugs to continue to flourish, and to creep across the moors to eventually join up and blanket the moors once more – building peat and storing carbon to tackle climate changes as they do so.

How much Sphagnum has been planted?

Since 2016, the Partnership has planted nearly 3,000 hectares of sphagnum moss across the Peak District and South Pennines, which is just over 3,500,000 plugs. Looking forwards to this wintery conservation season, an additional 1,000 hectares of sphagnum moss will be planted, totaling 5,050,000 sphagnum moss plugs over four years. This is good start, but is not nearly enough to plug the gaps in the blanket of sphagnum moss that is missing from our moors, there is still work to do to bring these moorlands back to thriving peatlands.

DISCOVER: BMC's The Climate Project

Some of these green transformations are already on a positive upward trajectory towards becoming healthy peatlands, but there is a lot more that remains to be done. You can see some of these changes occurring across some iconic locations in the Peak District and South Pennine moors including Black Hill, Kinder and Bleaklow as part of the MoorLIFE and MoorLIFE 2020 projects.

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.

WATCH: The great restoration work of Moors For The Future

 

The work of the Partnership is delivered by the Peak District National Park Authority as the lead and accountable body. It is supported through its partners including the Environment Agency, National Trust High, RSPB, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Pennine Prospects, and receives additional advice from the Woodland Trust, Natural England and representatives of the moorland owner and farming community.

The Climate Projects: It costs £25 to plant one square metre of sphagnum moss and create a healthy moor

Make a real difference: www.theclimateproject.co.uk

The Climate Project is a campaign by the Access and Conservation Trust (ACT) of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

Thanks to Montane, Cotswold Outdoor and Snow + Rock 

  

     


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 871 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Why are bogs so important for a healthy planet?
2
Why are bogs so important for a healthy planet?

Our peatlands store more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined and yet here on our doorstep, they're in a state of degradation. As part of The Climate Project's Let's Plant Moor series, Moors For The Future Partnership Officer Alice Leary takes a look at the knock-on effect on the nature surrounding us and what's being done to prevent it.
Read more »

Why are our moors so damaged?
0
Why are our moors so damaged?

Human activity and nature's consequences have been damaging the state of our moors for decades. As part of The Climate Project's Let's Plant Moor series, Moors For The Future Partnership Officer Alice Leary takes a look at how the degradation of the moors has a knock-on effect on the nature surrounding us and what's being done to prevent it.
Read more »

Join us for the Million Mile Mountain Clean
0
Join us for the Million Mile Mountain Clean

100,000 Volunteers x 10 Miles = 1 Million Miles. We’re working in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage cleaning one million miles of mountains, rivers, beaches and streets to protect the environment from the growing problem of plastic pollution. Join us for the biggest, most ambitious mountain clean campaign ever during the week of 15th - 23rd May.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
1
Anonymous User
26/12/2020
The Moors for the Future web site bears no registered charity number; it does not appear to purport to be a charity. It's relationships are so complicated that it is totally unclear just what it is. Are we being asked to donate to a charity or to a publicly funded company or what? The BMC should not be asking us to donate to something in circumstances of such little transparency.

RELATED ARTICLES

Why are bogs so important for a healthy planet?
2

Our peatlands store more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined and yet here on our doorstep, they're in a state of degradation. As part of The Climate Project's Let's Plant Moor series, Moors For The Future Partnership Officer Alice Leary takes a look at the knock-on effect on the nature surrounding us and what's being done to prevent it.
Read more »

Why are our moors so damaged?
0

Human activity and nature's consequences have been damaging the state of our moors for decades. As part of The Climate Project's Let's Plant Moor series, Moors For The Future Partnership Officer Alice Leary takes a look at how the degradation of the moors has a knock-on effect on the nature surrounding us and what's being done to prevent it.
Read more »

Join us for the Million Mile Mountain Clean
0

100,000 Volunteers x 10 Miles = 1 Million Miles. We’re working in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage cleaning one million miles of mountains, rivers, beaches and streets to protect the environment from the growing problem of plastic pollution. Join us for the biggest, most ambitious mountain clean campaign ever during the week of 15th - 23rd May.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »