Living Waters – Peatlands

Yorkshire Peat Partnership estimates there are around 94,760 hectares of blanket bog in Yorkshire but that around 80% of it has been damaged in some way…

Peatlands are nationally and internationally important habitats supporting rich, diverse wildlife including keystone bird species such as curlew and golden plover and rare, specialist plant life. They are also important for storing carbon, with 30cm of peat storing as much carbon as the equivalent surface area of rainforest. Crucially, degraded peatlands release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, with an estimated 16 million tonnes of CO2 being released from damaged UK peatlands every year.* Healthy peatlands also help to ‘slow the flow’, not only helping to prevent flooding downstream but preventing silts washing off into rivers and reservoirs which water companies then have to remove.

Our volunteers being trained by Yorkshire Peat Partnership

Our peatlands are one of the special qualities for which the Yorkshire Dales National Park was set up in 1954. Yorkshire Dales peatlands are blanket bog, made up of the decaying remains of plants such as sphagnum moss and cotton grass, which in a healthy state should be saturated, since sphagnum moss holds up to 20 times its own weight in water. New peat develops in these regularly wet conditions which in turn then holds more water, encouraging more bog plants, resulting in more peat being laid down.

Decades of inappropriate land management (supported in part by agricultural policies of the day) and recreational activities have exacerbated erosion so that the majority of the Yorkshire Dales peatlands are now dry, exposed, washed out and severely lacking in the correct peat forming vegetation.

What we are doing:

  • We actively support Campaign for National Parks and other organisations campaigning for the outright ban of disposable BBQs.
  • We actively support partner Wildlife Trusts in demanding a ban on the use of peat in the amateur and professional gardening sector.
  • We actively support organisations such as Yorkshire Peat Partnership which are re-wetting, restoring and improving the biodiversity of our peatlands. As part of this ongoing support, we now have eight teams of Eyes on the Bog volunteer monitors – trained and coordinated by Yorkshire Peat Partnership – taking responsibility for assessing the condition of specified sections of peatlands within the Yorkshire Dales. For further information see the link below:

*Source: Yorkshire Peat Partnership