A new £6 million project launches on 16 October to help fix large swathes of Pennine peatland over the next four years.
The project, Pennine PeatLIFE, which will take place in areas of the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, will fix currently damaged areas of blanket bog or ‘peat bog’, so that they once more provide homes for wildlife, store carbon to help us combat climate change and help filter clean water for us to drink.
Led by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership in collaboration with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership, the Pennine PeatLIFE project aims to restore a huge 1,300 hectares of bog – space enough for over 1,000 cricket matches to be held all at once. In addition the project will test innovative ways of funding works of this kind, identifying new approaches to paying for environmental improvements that benefit all society.
Rob Stoneman, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “The unique wet, cool climate of the UK might not suit all, but it provides the perfect conditions for blanket bog formation, with over 13% of the world’s resource found here. We therefore have a vital role to play in the protection of this globally important habitat and Pennine PeatLIFE is a major step forward in achieving this.
“Having long studied peatlands and their importance for climate, water, wildlife and historical studies, I am delighted that Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be part of this ambitious project to return this habitat, which is close to my heart, back to a bill of health working closely with a team of excellent partners.”
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the AONB Partnership, said: “There’s a really strong partnership working together to make this project happen, from the three main organisations doing the work on the ground, the landowners on whose peatlands we’ll be working, the universities undertaking the monitoring and organisations like the water companies and Environment Agency that are helping to fund and guide the programme. The North Pennines AONB Partnership and Yorkshire Peat Partnership have developed real expertise in peatland restoration over the years and this is great opportunity to scale up the work, for all the benefits peatland restoration brings to society.”
Financed by the European Union’s LIFE Programme, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water and United Utilities, Pennine PeatLIFE brings together a strong coalition of experienced partners to deliver a large-scale programme of peatland restoration and research with wide ranging benefits.
Andrew Walker, Catchment Manager from Yorkshire Water said: “45% of the water we treat comes from upland catchments, so they’re a really important source of water for us. They’re also dominated by internationally important peatland habitats, so initiatives like this are an excellent way for us to work in partnership with other water companies and key stakeholders to restore and enhance these landscapes. Healthy peatlands not only deliver cleaner water, but can help reduce the impact of downstream flooding, as well as mitigate against a changing climate.”
Pete Wilson, Catchment Partnership Officer, from United Utilities said: “United Utilities is very excited to be a part of this innovative partnership project. Peatland restoration has been at the heart of our catchment management for many years. Not only does it lead to improvements in internationally important habitats, but it can have a host of other benefits to society such as improvements in water quality, reductions in CO₂ emissions as well as slowing water flow into streams and rivers.”
John Devall, Water Director from Northumbrian Water said: “We are proud to be part of this fantastic partnership project which will involve restoring eroding peat habitats on a landscape scale.
“The EU Pennine PeatLIFE project will provide water quality benefits beyond the uplands; delivering upstream solutions for the benefits of our downstream customers for now and in the future.”
Restoration work will begin in November in collaboration with a number of landowners and will involve the use of newly developed techniques suited to the harsher climate of Northern England. New ways of recording changes in the peatlands ‘before and after’ the restoration will also be trialled, using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Knowledge gained from the project will be shared with UK and international partners to promote effective and sustainable peatland restoration techniques.
David Dangerfield Director of Operations (North) from the Environment Agency said: “We are delighted to be able to support Pennine PeatLIFE. The project brings together a number of partners to restore and protect peatlands across the Northern Pennines, and in the process improve water quality, biodiversity and natural flood management. The project will enable us all to share knowledge and experience, delivering more for our customers and the environment.”
The Pennine PeatLIFE launch event is being held on October 16th, 2017 at the Morritt Arms Hotel near Barnard Castle. For more information please contact Alistair Lockett at the North Pennines AONB Partnership.