Cotton Fields looking out onto rolling hills

A five-year project funded by the European Union LIFE+ programme

The project undertook work to benefit 25 square kilometres of Peak District and South Pennine moorland from 2010 to 2015.

Project start date: June 2010
Project end date: March 2015

What was MoorLIFE?

A €6.7 million project, MoorLIFE was one of the largest moorland conservation programmes undertaken to protect active blanket bog. Our work restored 893 hectares of damaged peatland to self-sustaining, active blanket bog. This protected 2,500 hectares of active blanket bog from becoming eroded.

About the project

We restored blanket bog on four sites: Bleaklow near Glossop, Black Hill near Holmfirth, Turley Holes near Mytholmroyd and Rishworth Common, all in the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Throughout the project we collected evidence to monitor the impact of our conservation work and communicated widely about our work.

We stabilised bare peat by covering it in geotextile or cut heather ‘brash’, and we treated peat made too acidic by industrial pollution with lime and fertiliser so that plants could grow again. We sowed fast-growing grasses to cover the bare peat and protect newly established moorland plants.

To find out more about these techniques visit repairing bare peat.

We blocked erosion gullies with stone and heather bales to slow rainfall run-off so that water is stored in the peat, rewetting it and creating suitable conditions for blanket bog to develop again. To find out more about these techniques visit working with water.

We ‘micro-propagated’ thousands of plug plants of sphagnum moss and other blanket bog plants and planted them on the restored sites along with 1.5 billion fragments of sphagnum spread by hand.

Water samples were taken regularly and volunteers monitored hundreds of dipwells, installed to record change in the water table following our work.

We developed a wide variety of communication tools and implemented a range of activities including lesson plans for primary and secondary schools. A campaign incorporating two interactive portals encouraged the public to be more Fire Aware.

On-site noticeboards still inform visitors about the work done there. Audio trails and smartphone apps are available to guide visitors through these iconic landscapes and interpret the plants, wildlife and features they find.

Press releases, podcasts, presentations and videos were produced to inform the public about the project. Conferences and seminars enabled us to share what we learned within scientific and environmental communities.

Browse news about the project

Layman's report

Read all about the MoorLIFE project in our Layman's Report

Download the PDF

Read online

Image of numerous bags of projects

Facts and figures

4000 dams were installed to help retain water on the moors

53 linear kilometres of geotextile material was laid to protect bare peat from erosion

200,000 plug plants of native moorland species were planted

Partners, funding and reports

The lead partner was Peak District National Park Authority. The project sites are on land owned by Yorkshire Water, United Utilities, the National Trust and private landowners.


€5 million from the European Union LIFE+ programme, and €1.7 million in matched funding from partners:

Environment Agency – €101,000

Natural England – €241,000

United Utilities – €580,000

Yorkshire Water – €482,000

National Trust – €242,000

Peak District National Park Authority – €37,000

Image of a group of members learning about MoorLIFE

Funded by

life logo Natura2000 logo