Restoring our precious peatlands
98 % of our lowland peatland habitats have been destroyed
Despite peatlands being a vital part of our heritage and listed as a UK Priority Habitat, they are hugely undervalued and regarded as wastelands to be exploited for peat.
What is a peatland?
Healthy peatlands are wet and boggy. Combined with low oxygen conditions, this moisture means plant material doesn't rot and is instead compressed into acidic peat soil. The soil has very few nutrients; specialist conditions that nurture a range of important plants that have perfectly adapted to survive in this unique environment.
Why are peatlands so important?
Thanks to the wet, acidic, low nutrient conditions, peatlands have the ability to store millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that has been absorbed over thousands of years, helping in the fight against climate change. Not only that, but they reduce the risk of flooding by soaking up water during periods of high rainfall and gradually releasing it over time. By contrast, a degraded peatland actively leaks carbon into the atmosphere.
Peatlands are also key habitats for endangered and rare species of both plants and animals including the bog bush cricket, black darter dragonfly, round-leaved sundew and...
Why are peatlands under threat?
98% of the lowland peatlands across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Merseyside have already been destroyed, and the precious 2% that remain face serious threats from all corners:
- Draining: Removing moisture upsets the delicate peatland ecosystem and can very quickly turn it back into grassland or woodland. The peatland flora and fauna, adapted for the previous environment, then struggles to survive.
- Agriculture: Fertilisers add nutrients to the low nutrient soil. These are then very difficult if not impossible to remove, permanently decreasing the area of peatland habitat.
- Development: As lowland habitats, there is a lot of pressure for lowland peatlands to be taken over by housing and infrastructure.
- Misinformation: Historically, people placed little value on peatland habitats, seeing them as unproductive wastelands, and this preconception has endured.
How we're saving peatlands
Restoring and protecting our precious peatlands is crucial not just for wildlife, but for us. They are nature reserves, carbon-stores, flood barriers and a wild reminder of a time before man-made pressures took hold. Once a peatland has degraded past a certain point it cannot be restored, and this precious wild place will be lost forever.
Our reserve staff, conservation team, volunteers and project leaders are working hard to re-wet the peatland landscape, building dams and bunds to raise the water levels and begin the restoration process.
We're working with landowners to improve the condition of the peatlands they own, and we campaign for the protection of key peatland sites.
We purchase key peatland sites to protect them from destruction, restoring them and then maintaining them through continuous monitoring. We're dedicated to preserving these precious habitats for future generations of both people and wildlife.
Large heath butterfly reintroduction
The large heath butterfly (also known as the Manchester argus) has been locally extinct in it's home city for 150 years. But we're bringing it back to the peatlands of Greater Manchester.
Take a closer look at our peatland sites
Together we can protect our peatlands for wildlife, for people; for everyone.
How you can help
Here are just a few ways you can help our peatlands recover...