Wednesday, 15 July 2015

England: Improving Peatland

In the last 2 weeks I have been on two visits to consider the regeneration of sphagnum moss.

The Peak District
The ascent of Kinder Scout
Last week it was the Peak District and an outing of the new Uplands Management Group (UMG) - the successor to the Best Practice Burning Group.  The Moors for the Future project hosted the visit and we were marched up to the top of Kinder Scout to look at the restoration work the project has been carrying out.  Starting from almost completely bare peat 10 years ago, the transformation has been remarkable and the scope of the project has been extended to include inoculation with plugs of sphagnum moss.

Revegetated ground - top of Kinder Scout
Sphagnum Moss requires wet conditions to grow successfully and this is difficult to achieve on top of hills.  However, the project team reckon that high rainfall can provide good conditions for sphagnum, even where the water table is well below the surface.

The cost of all the restoration work is high (about £12,000 per ha), but the stability of this important area of peat is increasing so that it will stay there long term and not succumb to the combined forces of gravity and erosion by wind and water.

While chairman of this group, I would like to see the Group tackle how to improve the coverage of sphagnum mosses on areas, which are not so critical, and where there is no big funding pot.  The importance of the sphagnum message needs to be demonstrated to land managers, so that they can improve the conditions as part of their normal management.  Tell them clearly what is required and there is a chance it can be achieved; if they do not know the requirement, there is no chance.

Keighley Moor

The USF on Keighley Moor
The Upland Stakeholder Forum met near Keighley, yesterday, and this included a visit onto Keighley Moor, above the reservoir, as guests of Yorkshire Water (YW).  This was one of the moors included in the 'bogathon' visits last year but it was good to go back and bring other members of the Forum up to speed with the work being carried out by YW.

The driver for YW is water quality and their emphasis has been on raising the water table by blocking grips and revegetating bare peat.  To YW's credit they have taken the grouse and farm enterprises with them, and all are enthused by the work.  The gamekeeper, farmer and area officer for Natural England joined the visit and it was great to see everyone working towards a common goal.  This is an example of the Natural England Outcomes Approach working in practice.  More please!

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