The Forest of Bowland AONB is the westernmost extent of the Pennine chain and represents some unique challenges; the sites are high, remote, difficult to access, and wet. There are gullies as wide as the M6 and there is a labyrinthine network of peatpipes underground. This has presented some huge obstacles for the Pennine PeatLIFE project, but it has now finished its restoration work in upland Lancashire. The interventions, delivered by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, included: 16,000 sphagnum plugs planted in heather-dominated peatland; 18.5km gullies blocked with peat dams; 450 wooden dams installed; over 2,000 stone sediment traps installed; 74,000 plugs plants planted in bare peat; nearly 6 ha of bare peat revegetated. It also trialled some new techniques, including stone and wooden “baffles” in very wide (up to 30m) gullies to reduce erosion and slow-the-flow.
Restoration, of course, is not a one-and-done process so the peatlands restored are not functioning blanket bog but certainly much closer than they were. Like peatland restoration sites everywhere, monitoring and further interventions will be necessary.
Pennine PeatLIFE is funded by the EU LIFE programme with match funding from Yorkshire Water, United Utilities, Northumbrian Water and the Environment Agency. It is led by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership in collaboration with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership. Through Pennine PeatLIFE, they are delivering 1,353 hectares of peatland restoration in the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, establishing new restoration techniques to suit the unique climatic conditions and trialling innovative Payment for Ecosystem Services methods to inform future peatland restoration funding streams. and funded by the EU Life Programme.