EU investment package for nature

The European Commission has approved an investment package of €243 million from the EU budget for projects under the LIFE programme supporting nature, the environment and quality of life in Europe’s transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. Member States will benefit from quarter of a billion euros of investments in environment, nature and climate action.

LIFE programme press release link.

Peatland restoration experts share knowledge

Peatland specialists from a UK restoration project have visited their twinning partners in Finland on the second leg of a peatland expertise exchange.

Along with colleagues from the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and the Environment Agency, members of the Pennine PeatLIFE team joined Finnish partners from Hydrology LIFE to share world-leading knowledge and expertise. The twinning programme was set up by environmental network Eurosite.

Peat project memebers in Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park © Jari Ilmonen

Peat project members in Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park © Jari Ilmonen

Pennine PeatLIFE is an EU LIFE Programme project, restoring peatlands in the North Pennines AONB, the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland AONB. It is co-financed by Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water. During a four day visit the Pennine PeatLIFE team looked at how peatlands are restored in the different conditions further north. This followed a visit by Hydrology LIFE and the Eurosite network to the North Pennines AONB earlier in the year. The peat specialists from each country were keen to discover how differing restoration techniques could be applied on their home patch. In both legs of the exchange the Pennine PeatLIFE team demonstrated survey techniques using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

There are numerous benefits to the environment and to society of restoring damaged peatlands. They play a vital role in mitigating climate change through carbon storage, and also provide wildlife habitats, improve water quality and help to reduce the risk of flooding through slowing the flow.

Tim Thom, Peat Programme Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“Throughout this project we have been working with our international partners, and this has helped the teams in both countries to share good practice and learn from successful restoration work. We’d like to thank our hosts at Hydrology LIFE for their hospitality and for sharing their achievements with us.”

Tuomas Haapalehto, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland Project Manager said:

“In our exchange visit to the North Pennines AONB earlier this year we learned a lot about the techniques used in the UK for peatland restoration. We were delighted to host the return leg of this visit and have been able to share the knowledge and success of our restoration projects here in Finland.”

Katie Aspray of the Environment Agency said:

“Pennine PeatLIFE is helping us towards the ambitions set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, protecting peatlands as our largest carbon store and the vast range of other environmental and flood risk benefits that peat restoration brings.”

Launched in October 2017, the £6 million Pennine PeatLIFE project aims to restore a huge 1,300 hectares of bog - space enough for over 1,000 cricket matches to be held all at once. In addition to the ecosystem service benefits that restored peatlands bring to society, the project will spend the majority of the £6 million in the local economies of the North Pennines, Nidderdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales National Park over the course of its restoration work.

Glasson Moss volunteer day, 07/06/18, 11:00 to 15:00

Would you like to be involved in blanket bog restoration? It’s a beautiful and important habitat that helps to filter our drinking water; is home to amazing plants and animals; locks up carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere; slows the flow of rainwater into our rivers and so can help manage flooding. Unfortunately, much of this habitat is badly eroded and we need your help to restore it.

Volunteers will be collecting seeds from two species of cottongrass; Eriophorum angustofolium and vaginatum. After collection, we will cultivate them in a nursey for transplantation at sites within the North Pennines AONB. Cottongrasses are important peat-forming species typical of upland bog habitats. They are characteristic of moorlands, with white-cottony heads that bloom during the summer months. Collecting viable seed sources will enable the reintroduction of cottongrass to degraded areas within the North Pennines AONB and improve blanket bog vegetation.

Glaston Moss meeting point, Crown copyright and database rights 2018, Ordnance Survey

Glaston Moss meeting point, Crown copyright and database rights 2018, Ordnance Survey

You’ll be collecting seeds at Glasson Moss, part of South Solway Mosses National Nature Reserve, located approximately 22km west of Carlisle, Cumbria. Parking is located near the reserve entrance between Kirkbride and Bowness-on-Solway. Parking is tight, if attending and possible please consider car sharing on the day to increase available parking space.

Glasson moss is situated in a boggy, exposed location meaning weather can change rapidly. Volunteers will need to dress appropriately in warm clothes and waterproofs, gloves and robust footwear. The event will be outdoors for all of the day so volunteers should bring packed lunch and drinks. Sun-cream and insect repellent are also recommended.

For additional information please call Christopher Watt on 01388 528801 or email (

How the Yorkshire iCASP is supporting partners tackling flooding and peatland restoration

Healthy peatland can play an important role in both flood risk reduction and carbon storage. This was the take home message for two Yorkshire MPs who took part in an event organised by IUCN UK Peat Programme on a Pennine PeatLIFE site in Bishopdale, which demonstrated work on natural flood management and peat restoration.

The enthusiasm of Rishi Sunak (Richmond) and Julian Sturdy (York Outer) is captured in this short (4’ 30”) film by the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP). The film focuses on partnership working for sharing knowledge and best practice. It also celebrates how academics and practitioners are working together through iCASP to use insights from previous research programmes to drive innovation and cost-effectiveness in current and future programmes of flood management and carbon storage to benefit Yorkshire communities.


Join our next webinar

Pennine PeatLIFE Webinar: Geospatial Analysis of Blanket Bog Habitats Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Technology

Since 2012 the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Technology to survey areas of degraded blanket bog habitats.

The work has been conducted across the mountains and foothills that comprise the low-rising Pennine mountain range in northern England. The high resolution imagery and Digital Surface Models (DSMs) generated from these surveys allows us to analyse and map blanket bogs in far greater detail than we previously could before.

This webinar will outline some of the methodologies that we have developed during this time and how they will be applied to Pennine PeatLIFE. This  includes  but  is  not  limited  to  the  automated mapping   of   erosion   features,   analysis of hydrology and geomorphology, creation of photorealistic 3D terrain models, the creation of cross sectional profiles of gully systems and the  3D  modelling  of  subsurface  peat  reserves. By  helping  us  to understand  and  quantify  erosion,  the  information  generated  from these  surveys  will  help  us  to  target  resources,  and  make  informed decisions on how  and where to carry out  restoration work in order protect and enhance these precious habitats.

Click here to register and join the webinar. Webinar ID: 215-481-035.


Hareden Fell Frozen - taken by UAV

Hareden Fell frozen pond – taken by UAV

The Sphagnum Trials

Sphagnum moss is an important peat-building component in upland bog systems. Many blanket bogs have lost a significant amount of Sphagnum coverage and it is essential to reintroduce the plant to re-vegetate our peatlands.

Sphagnum benefits:

  • capable of holding double its own weight in water
  • the lower parts of the plant accumulate over time in saturated conditions, leading to the production of peat
  • forms multi-coloured carpets, adding to the beautiful landscapes where they are found

Pennine PeatLIFE is trialling a number of methods of reintroducing Sphagnum, including:

  • planting plug plants grown under greenhouse conditions
  • spreading fragments, pellets or gel
  • harvesting and transplanting clumps by hand
  • spreading fragments by machine

Each site and method provides different challenges, and Pennine PeatLIFE will use the trials to determine the most suitable technique for each type of location.

Peat Partners Share Expertise

Peat Partners Share Expertise

Finnish peat restoration project, Hydrology LIFE, will visit its twinned UK project, Pennine PeatLIFE, to share expertise and experience.

A dozen peatland specialists from Finland and environmental network, Eurosite, will be joining Pennine PeatLIFE in the North Pennines AONB on 12th March. The European visitors are keen to learn about how the project is restoring peatlands in the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale and the Forest of Bowland, and how they might apply any techniques  to their own project.

During the four day visit the Pennine PeatLIFE team will demonstrate their innovative work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Sphagnum moss cultivation (the core ingredient of peat); new computer-modelling techniques that predict the effects of restoration; and explore new approaches to paying for environmental improvements that benefit all society.

Paul Leadbitter, North Pennines AONB Partnership's Peatland Programme Manager, said:

“Here in the UK, we have world-leading expertise in peatland restoration. I’m delighted to welcome our European guests and look forward to sharing our pioneering work with them. ”We’re thrilled to be twinned with Hydrology LIFE, as this co-operation ensures that our successes can extend to other projects and peatlands around Europe and the world.”

Tuomas Haapalehto, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland Project Manager said:

“Peatlands are major ecosystem types in both the UK and Finland due to similar weather conditions. Unfortunately, both countries have degraded their peatlands.

“Luckily, lots of experience has been accumulated on techniques to recover ecosystems during the last few years. The co-operation between the LIFE projects is a great way to exchange experiences and find the most cost efficient ways to safeguard peatland diversity and the many benefits they provide to people.”

Kristijan Čivić, Eurosite Network Development Manager, said:

“Eurosite is very happy that we were able to help bring together a group of experts on peatland restoration from all over Europe, under the umbrella of our Twinning programme.

“This visit is an excellent example on how to best disseminate and demonstrate the practical knowledge accumulated within individual sites or LIFE projects to a broader interested audience, while at the same time receiving some feedback and generate new ideas.”

Peatlands are important habitats that provide multiple ecosystem service  benefits: they are home to an array of unique plants and animals; store carbon to help us combat climate change and help filter clean water for us to drink; and can help with natural flood management.

Launched in October, 2017, the £6 million Pennine PeatLIFE project aims to restore a huge 1,300 hectares of bog - space enough for over 1,000 cricket matches to be held all at once. In addition to the ecosystem service benefits that restored peatlands bring to society, the project will spend the majority of the £6 million in the local economies of the North Pennines, Nidderdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales National Park over the course of its restoration work.

£6 million invested in restoring nature’s natural carbon store in Northern England

A new £6 million project launches today to help fix large swathes of Pennine peatland over the next four years. The project, Pennine PeatLIFE, which will take place in areas of the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland, will fix currently damaged areas of blanket bog or ‘peat bog’, so that they once more provide homes for wildlife, store carbon to help us combat climate change and help filter clean water for us to drink.

Led by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership in collaboration with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Forest of Bowland AONB Partnership, the Pennine PeatLIFE project aims to restore a huge 1,300 hectares of bog – space enough for over 1,000 cricket matches to be held all at once. In addition the project will test innovative ways of funding works of this kind, identifying new approaches to paying for environmental improvements that benefit all society.

Rob Stoneman, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said:

“The unique wet, cool climate of the UK might not suit all, but it provides the perfect conditions for blanket bog formation, with over 13% of the world’s resource found here. We therefore have a vital role to play in the protection of this globally important habitat and Pennine PeatLIFE is a major step forward in achieving this.

“Having long studied peatlands and their importance for climate, water, wildlife and historical studies, I am delighted that Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be part of this ambitious project to return this habitat, which is close to my heart, back to a bill of health working closely with a team of excellent partners.”

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the AONB Partnership, said:

“There’s a really strong partnership working together to make this project happen, from the three main organisations doing the work on the ground, the landowners on whose peatlands we’ll be working, the universities undertaking the monitoring and organisations like the water companies and Environment Agency that are helping to fund and guide the programme. The North Pennines AONB Partnership and Yorkshire Peat Partnership have developed real expertise in peatland restoration over the years and this is great opportunity to scale up the work, for all the benefits peatland restoration brings to society.”

Financed by the European Union’s LIFE Programme, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water and United Utilities, Pennine PeatLIFE brings together a strong coalition of experienced partners to deliver a large-scale programme of peatland restoration and research with wide ranging benefits.

Andrew Walker, Catchment Manager from Yorkshire Water said:

“45% of the water we treat comes from upland catchments, so they’re a really important source of water for us. They’re also dominated by internationally important peatland habitats, so initiatives like this are an excellent way for us to work in partnership with other water companies and key stakeholders to restore and enhance these landscapes. Healthy peatlands not only deliver cleaner water, but can help reduce the impact of downstream flooding, as well as mitigate against a changing climate.”

Pete Wilson, Catchment Partnership Officer, from United Utilities said:

“United Utilities is very excited to be a part of this innovative partnership project. Peatland restoration has been at the heart of our catchment management for many years. Not only does it lead to improvements in internationally important habitats, but it can have a host of other benefits to society such as improvements in water quality, reductions in CO₂ emissions as well as slowing water flow into streams and rivers.”

John Devall, Water Director from Northumbrian Water said:

“We are proud to be part of this fantastic partnership project which will involve restoring eroding peat habitats on a landscape scale.

“The EU Pennine PeatLIFE project will provide water quality benefits beyond the uplands; delivering upstream solutions for the benefits of our downstream customers for now and in the future.”

Restoration work will begin in November in collaboration with a number of landowners and will involve the use of newly developed techniques suited to the harsher climate of Northern England. New ways of recording changes in the peatlands ‘before and after’ the restoration will also be trialled, using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Knowledge gained from the project will be shared with UK and international partners to promote effective and sustainable peatland restoration techniques.

David Dangerfield Director of Operations (North) from the Environment Agency said:

'We are delighted to be able to support Pennine PeatLIFE. The project brings together a number of partners to restore and protect peatlands across the Northern Pennines, and in the process improve water quality, biodiversity and natural flood management. The project will enable us all to share knowledge and experience, delivering more for our customers and the environment.”

The Pennine PeatLIFE launch event is being held on October 16th, 2017 at the Morritt Arms Hotel near Barnard Castle.