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Chat Moss and 12 Yards Road

Greater Manchester’s Pilot Scheme to Restore Vital Peatland

The pilot is one of five such initiatives across England – supported by DEFRA – designed to play an important part in developing a new England Peat Strategy (EPS). This EPS will guide the delivery of an innovative national approach to peatland restoration.

Why are peatlands so important?

Peatlands, such as the moors in the uplands and the mosses in the lowlands of Greater Manchester, are iconic features of the English landscape that make an important contribution to achieving UK and city-region level carbon reduction targets. Natural England estimates that England’s peatlands store around 580 million tonnes of carbon. Peatlands also provide many other benefits:

  • reducing flood risk
  • improving water quality in rivers and lakes
  • providing habitat for some of England’s most special wildlife such as Sphagnum moss and a range of invertebrates

However, it’s estimated that only 13% of England’s peatlands can be considered to be in good condition. Research from Greater Manchester’s Urban Pioneer project estimates that 26,281 tonnes of CO2 released by the Saddleworth Moor fires of summer 2018, with an approximate value of £1.68 million. In the time it takes for the area to fully recover from the damage, it is thought that a further 770 tonnes of carbon per year will be lost, totalling £3.6 million.

Leading the way

Each pilot in the programme has a small number of core objectives and builds understanding of how barriers to restoration can be overcome. The Greater Manchester restoration pilot highlights the growing recognition of the importance of peat and contributes to the objectives of the Greater Manchester 5-Year Environment Plan. The partners in the pilot will investigate the role of peat in carbon management within the city region and help to show how peatland restoration can contribute to the city region’s ambitious carbon reduction targets.

Greater Manchester will also look at how local planning policy and other emerging approaches, such as assessing biodiversity net gain, can provide a framework for the delivery of peatland restoration targets.

Where will the programme run?

The Greater Manchester pilot will focus on two key areas: an upland area in the West Pennine Moors above Bury & Bolton, and a lowland area on the Chat Moss complex in Salford.

Mark Turner, Natural Course Team Leader in Greater Manchester, said: “We’re delighted that one of the national peatland restoration pilot projects will be located in Greater Manchester. This emphasises the importance of the area’s peatlands to the city-region’s carbon reduction targets and delivers a range of other benefits such as reduced flood risk and the provision of valuable habitat.”

The England Peat Strategy, to be launched later in 2019, will set out a systematic approach for assessing all areas of peatland in England and go on to inform future management. This will allow landowners, communities and partners to safeguard these important natural assets and enhance the value of public goods provided by peatlands.

The programme of restoration pilots will be led by Natural England and will run until the end of March 2020.     

Want to find out more about how Greater Manchester is improving the natural environment  and your local area? Head here.