Largest award ever given by EU LIFE Programme to a UK conservation project

06 October 2015
Peak District Moorlands

World-leading moorland partnership receives €16 million support

The Moors for the Future Partnership, which works to protect priority international habitats in the Peak District and South Pennines, has received 16 million euros to deliver the MoorLIFE 2020 project.

This includes €12 million from the EU’s LIFE fund - which supports environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout Europe - the largest award ever given to a UK-based project.

The Project, hosted by the Peak District National Park Authority, is supported by partners including three major utility companies Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water, who have each made significant contributions to the project’s €16 million total.

The money will enable the team to continue the progress that has been made over the past 12 years, protecting huge areas of the internationally important South Pennine Moors.

Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park, said: “This is a massive vote of confidence in our work in the Peak District and South Pennines. The project will deliver landscape scale works as well as leading the way in researching and developing innovative techniques to protect and understand these fantastic places.

“We’re really grateful for the match-funding from the water companies, which has allowed this project to take place and demonstrates the significance of these important Sites of Special Scientific Interest in protecting and providing drinking water.

“The techniques evolved by ourselves and our partners are now being closely followed by environmentalists and land managers in the UK, across the EU and around the world and we will share what we’ve learned whenever we can.”

The internationally important blanket bogs of the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC) are at significant risk, with large areas devastated by 150 years of atmospheric pollution and wildfires.

Expanses of bare peat threaten the remaining active blanket bog, which plays a key role in the UK’s action on climate change, together with providing resilience to natural disasters such as floods and fire and providing drinking water to the towns and cities around the Peak District.

  

Bare peat on Bleaklow,(left) and after conservation works were carried out

The €16 million of funding will enable the partnership to expand its work hugely, protecting the integrity of 9,500 hectares of active blanket bog through re-vegetating bare peat, improving hydrology and diversifying existing vegetation.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said:
“History shows us that it is money well spent. Every LIFE project is focusing on key habitats or key species.”

He said: “I am proud that the EU has chosen this way to help our member states and at the same time to help nature.

“I have no doubt that the success of MoorLIFE 2020 will pay us back many times over.”

The Peak District National Park Authority will be acting as the co-ordinating partner. Other partners, who will also benefit from the new funding, as well as leading on some of the actions, are the National Trust and RSPB, which own or manage large tracts of moorland in this area, and Pennine Prospects (the South Pennines Rural Regeneration Company).

The wider benefits of moorland restoration are:

  • enriching biodiversity – providing breeding habitats for moorland plants, birds, insects, mammals and amphibians, many of which are in serious decline
  • improving water quality in our reservoirs and rivers as less sediment pours into streams
  • reducing fire risk as wetter moorlands resist the spread of wildfires – which release tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and devastate wildlife habitats
  • retaining carbon in the soil – a major factor in action on climate change. Peatlands are the UK’s biggest carbon store, holding 40-50 per cent of its carbon, but bare, damaged peat releases it to the wind
  • reducing flood risk in towns and villages as revegetated moorland reduces the flow-rate and volume of downpours into our rivers and streams
  • boosting the local economy by attracting more visitors, many of whom use local holiday accommodation, shops, cafes and pubs.

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