Saving Peak District moorlands

Friday 5 March 2010

Seventy-five per cent of the world's heather moorlands are in the UK. However, pollution, overgrazing and wild fires have damaged large areas. Several organisations in the Peak District National Park are trying to restore and conserve the moorland habitat. As part of the Festival of Social Science organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (12-21 March 2010), the Peak District National Park Authority in Partnership with the National Trust and Moors for the Future is running a walk and a series of talks for the general public and local countryside professionals to share the research, practical techniques and successes of moorland restoration.

Conserving and restoring the moorlands is important because of a number of reasons: some of the rarest habitats in the world, moorlands are home to extremely rare animals and plants. They are also important leisure and recreation places. Finally, moorlands in good condition act as a valuable carbon sink that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases, thereby slowing climate change. The Peak District Moorlands currently stores between 16 and 20 million tonnes of carbon; and together with the rest of the UK's peat lands are the single largest carbon reserve in the UK-storing the equivalent of 20 years of UK carbon dioxide emissions.

Air pollution, fires, grazing, climate change and recreational trampling have caused the erosion of large areas of the moorland. Damaged areas release more carbon than they absorb. Researchers from the Moors for the Future Partnership argue that peat land restoration activities in England and Wales could absorb around 400,000 tonnes of carbon a year. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1.1 billion car miles or 84,000 family-sized cars per year.

Using techniques such as re-establishing heather and other moorland plants, rebuilding and re-routing paths, and gully blocking, various organisations seek to reduce erosion. A walk on Kinder Scout, a high upland plateau, will take participants on a tour of this range of restoration techniques. Researchers from the Moors for the Future Partnership will explain their research projects and answer questions.

The National Trust is hosting this walk following the success of previous guided tours and the great interest in moorland restoration. "Here at the Moorland Discovery Centre, we often have members of the public enquiring about restoration work on the moorland areas. However, so far people have had little opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the work and the research that is currently done. This event will allow interested people to get a feel for the scale of the work and the wide ranging research," said Moorland Discovery Learning Officer Rachel Kerr, who initiated the event.

A talk will present restoration research and initiatives to countryside professionals who will then be able to pass this information on to the general public. Other talks aimed at the general public will highlight some of the most interesting elements of the different research initiatives.

For further information contact

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Notes for editors

  1. Understanding the Peak District National Park
    • Organiser: Moorland Discovery Centre
    • Saturday 13 March 10.00 - 15.00 Wednesday 17 March 12.00 - 13.30
    • Venue: Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw Estate, Derbyshire. S11 7TZ
    • Audience: Suitable for all
    • For more information: Understanding the Peak District National Park
  2. The facts stated in this press release are taken from the Moor For the Future.
  3. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council. It runs from 12 to 21 March 2010, alongside National Science and Engineering Week. It features events from some of the country's leading social scientists the festival and celebrates the very best of British Social Science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. The Festival provides insight into research in a variety of formats; from traditional lectures and exhibitions to theatrical performances, film screenings and topical debates. The Festival is aimed at a range of different audiences, including policy makers, business, the media, the general public and students of all ages. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website.
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. You can also follow updates from the ESRC on Twitter (@ESRC).