Making Space for Water

The project investigated the impacts of moorland restoration on flood risk

Conservation works such as dam building and plug planting were undertaken

The works were found to significantly reduce and slow run-off, lowering flood risk downstream

Providing evidence of the success of blanket bog conservation work in reducing flood risk

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Project start date: April 2012
Project end date: March 2015

Our Making Space for Water project was designed to find out how improving the condition of blanket bog moorland can help to reduce local flood risk, while also producing wider benefits for the environment and communities.

We did this by monitoring the volume of rain falling into discrete areas (mini-catchments) during storms on the tops of the moor, and the volume flowing out of these areas. We also measured the height of the water table (depth of ground water beneath the surface), the amount of peat and carbon being washed away, and the colour of the water.

We chose the project site on the Kinder Scout plateau because it had vast areas of bare, eroding peat, having suffered a long history of degradation due to industrial atmospheric pollution, over-grazing and wildfires. We left a small part of the plateau in this degraded condition (a treatment-excluded ‘control’) so that we always had a comparison with our restored (‘treatment’) areas.

The results showed that our restoration activities on the plateau had the following effects:

  • Reduced and delayed storm flow (less water flowing out of the mini-catchment during a storm event, and taking more time.)
  • Significantly raised water tables, making the mini-catchments boggier and more conducive to sphagnum moss growth.
  • Increased number of and area covered by plant species that are key components of blanket bogs
  • Reduced area covered by bare peat
  • Reduced amount of peat washing away
  • A consensus amongst local land managers that restoration and sustainable management of degraded peatlands can deliver multiple benefits to society.

Measuring the flow

Since the conclusion of the Defra-funded period of the project we have added to the treatments by planting one of the mini-catchments with an additional 45,000 sphagnum plugs – 30,000 in 2015 and another 15,000 in early 2018. The aim of this intensive planting is to 'fast-forward' to a healthy blanket bog as soon as possible, so we can monitor the effects of a more complete cover sphagnum moss on raising water tables and slowing the flow of rainwater.

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Harnessing nature to reduce stormflow

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Read the report in full

Flood risk; Particulate organic carbon; Dissolved organic carbon; Plant diversity; Flood risk; Gully block; Water quality

Summary report - Making Space for Water project

Restoration of blanket bogs; flood risk reduction and other ecosystem services

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Science; Hydrology; Natural Flood Management | NFM; Ecosystem services | Natural Capital; Long term monitoring; Bare peat; Water quality

Restoration of Blanket bogs; flood risk reduction and other ecosystem benefits MoorLIFE 2020 | 2015

The final report of the Making Space for Water project

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Moorland restoration; lime treatment; heather brash; fertiliser; plug panting; flood management; gully blocking

Annex 1. Background, location, design and the restoration process

From the final Making Space for Water report

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Plant diversity; moorland plants; moorland restoration; Vegetation cover; vegetation monitoring ; indicator species; blanket bog favourable condition

Annex 2. The development of plant diversity

From the final Making Space for Water report

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Carbon storage; Climate change; Moorland restoration; Particulate organic carbon; Water quality; gully flow

Annex 3. Particulate Organic Carbon

From the final Making Space for Water report

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Water quality; dissolved organic carbon; carbon storage; moorland restoration; water colour; water sampling

Annex 4. Dissolved Organic Carbon concentrations

From the final Making Space for Water report

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flood management; flood risk; run off; storm flow; hydrology; gully blocking; revegetation; moorland restoration

Annex 5. Flood Risk

From the final Making Space for Water report

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gully block; revegetation; moorland restoration; hydrology; flood risk; flood management; weirs; peak flow; runoff; peak discharge

Annex 6. Flood risk modelling

From the final Making Space for Water report

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Ecosystem services ; Ecosystem services assessment; Payment for ecosystem services; Multiple benefits; stakeholders; Moorland ecosystem; climate regulation; water purification; erosion prevention; natural hazard regulation; recreation and tourism; Scientific knowledge

Annex 7. Sustainable management of peatlands: An ecosystem services assessment

From the final Making Space for Water report

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ecosystem services; multiple benefits; stakeholder engagement; payment for ecosystem services; climate change; moorland restoration

Annex 8. Valuing the Dark Peak: A Deliberative Approach to Payments for Peatland Ecosystem Services

From the final Making Space for Water report

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