North Pennines AONB Partnership Peatland Programme

Introduction

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership’s Peatland Programme is a multi-year peatland conservation effort that aims to restore and conserve the internationally important peatland resources within the North Pennines.

Description

The United Kingdom has about 12% of Europe’s peatlands and 13% of the that is internationally rare: blanket bog. The North Pennines has almost 30% of England’s blanket bog and contains the largest area of contiguous bog in England. At over 100,000 ha the North Pennines AONB peatland complex is one the largest bogs and carbon stores in Europe. Almost 10,000 km of drains have been cut into these North Pennine peatlands over the last 60 years in an attempt to make them more agriculturally productive. This drainage has left the peat bog damaged and in a deteriorating condition. North Pennine peatlands provide numerous ecosystem services including carbon storage and sequestration, water resources, wildlife habitat and flood amelioration. It is important, therefore, to restore this habitat and increase the resilience of peatlands under climate change impacts.

Restoration Delivered

The Peatland Programme has four basic objectives:

  1. Restoration: Supporting peatland restoration and management work;
  2. Research: Supporting and disseminating of new and existing research;
  3. Celebration: Raising appreciation and understanding of peatlands;
  4. Promoting best practice: Provision of peatland management advice.

Since 2006, the Programme has worked with partners to assess and block 6,200 km of drainage. It has restored 7,000 ha of peatlands in the North Pennines by directly financing and managing 1,100 km of drain blocking by installing 110,000 peat dams.

Site Activity

The Programme has supported over 15 scientific research projects, including the ongoing National Peat Depth Survey funded by Natural England. By contributing to the peatland research community, engaging with local residents and visiting tourists, the project is also working to raise the profile of peatlands with decision makers, funders, land managers and the general public. A recent remote sensing survey identified over 4,800 eroding peat sites in the North Pennines, with a total area of more than 2,800 ha. An initial review of the data indicates that approximately 2,460 ha of these eroding peat bodies require restoration. A ground survey of these sites is planned for 2012 which will begin to classify, quantify and prioritise the eroding peat sites. The next several years will then be spent restoring some of the largest and most damaged eroding peatland areas, as well as continuing to block the remaining 3,800 km of drains in the North Pennines.

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Project Name: North Pennines AONB Partnership Peatland Programme

Organisation / Lead partner: North Pennines AONB Partnership

Location: Newbiggin-in-Teesdale, County Durham

Conservation Status: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Predominately: Upland

Peat Habitats: Blanket bog

Project Type: Restoration, Management, Research

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