European Union invests millions to save UK moors for the future

This is an archived press release

Friday 23 July 2010

23 July 2010

European Union invests millions to save UK moors for the future

The largest conservation project funded by the EU Life+ programme this year and the largest ever in the UK was launched by Poul Christensen, chair of Natural England on the windswept Pennine moors above Holmfirth (on July 21).

The MoorLIFE project, spearheaded by the Moors for the Future Partnership, will receive £5.5million over the next five years to protect Active Blanket Bog by restoring bare and eroding peat in the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

The project covers more than 8 sq km of the most-damaged Peak District and South Pennine moors between Manchester and Sheffield.

The work involves stabilising the peat to prevent it being lost (much of it now erodes into the reservoirs which supply drinking water, necessitating costly cleaning processes). Reintroducing vegetation helps create a healthy, sustainable active blanket bog habitat (an EU Priority Habitat).

Healthy peat moors:

  • 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.
  • Helps reduce the likelihood of flooding - in good condition our moorlands slow the flow of rainwater, this may reduce the likelihood of flash flooding in downstream urban areas such as were seen in the Don Valley in 2007 and Derby in 2000.
  • Provide a unique habitat for a wide range of wildlife

MoorLIFE will incorporate a revolutionary technique developed by Moors for the Future with funding from the Co-operative Foundation in their ‘Sphagnum Propagation Project.’ Sphagnum is the most important peat forming plant and the glue that holds the whole blanket bog community together. Regenerating sphagnum on a landscape scale will provide a lasting legacy that can be applied to degraded moorlands across the UK.

Natural England chair Poul Christensen said: “Damage to peatlands affects us all. As well as providing unique habitats for rare and special wildlife, peatlands are a vital buffer against climate change, they have a major role to play in alleviating flood risk and they help supply us with millions of litres of water every day.

“One third of England’s active blanket bog is found here in the Peak District, and it is extremely encouraging to see the work that is going on to restore this vital part of the nation’s natural infrastructure.”

This is an archived press release

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