£13 million peat restoration for Peak District National Park

Research into peat erosion and conservation is supporting large-scale programmes to protect and restore some of Britain’s most ecologically valuable upland landscapes. Peak District National Park has already invested £13 million in a pioneering model restoration programme now being adopted by national parks across the UK.

Studies on peat erosion steer major upland restoration projects across the UK

Peatland Restoration and Ecosystem Services book cover
Effective approaches to conserve and restore uplands are considered in a forthcoming volume.

Britain’s uplands are dominated by peat soils, representing a unique and crucial ecological resource and playing a key role as a carbon sink and for water resources and the regulation of water quality.

These stunning landscapes are now under threat – a combination of air pollution and changing land use has caused significant erosion.

As collaborators in the Moors for the Future Partnership (MFFP), our research has provided key evidence to justify major investments in peatland restoration projects and the adoption of new approaches to monitor the recovery of carbon and water condition in peatlands following restoration.

Key benefits:

  • £13 million investment in in peat restoration and erosion control by Peak District National Park
  • Adoption of new approaches to erosion control, including gully blocking and re-vegetation
  • Pioneering research-led partnership approach pioneered by MFFP now being implemented for other uplands (e.g. North Pennines, North York Moors, Dartmoor and Exmoor)
  • Presentation of research to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s expert inquiry panel on peatlands, for inclusion in policy, research roadmapping and development of best practice in peat restoration at an international scale

Our research

8% of the UK land area is peat moorland
8% of the UK land area is peat moorland. Peat moorlands are under significant threat from erosion.

The Manchester team used a technique called laser altimetry to map gully systems and assess how the morphology of the peat landscape is related to patterns of erosion. New models of gully hydrology helped to identify the key factors influencing erosion and the consequences of peat loss on the release of carbon and the quality of water in peatlands.

Evaluating the effectiveness of various approaches to conserve and restore uplands, the researchers also showed that:

  • Gully blocking, using special techniques, reduces the amount of carbon lost from the system and allows vegetation to grow back
  • Re-planting exposed peat supports restoration
  • Peat restoration has benefits for the wider ecosystem

Key people