Against a backdrop of ever-changing circumstances and a challenging year for nature, we’re pleased to say that the conservation work this year has not only been completed successfully, but has been the largest conservation season to date for Moors for the Future Partnership.

The difficulties of working through the pandemic and a prolonged period of extraordinarily snowy weather presented a double challenge over the last twelve months. Working on the high moor tops and then collating data from the conservation work delivered has been tricky, but the Partnership rose to the challenge.

In some aspects of the work, such as sphagnum planting and gully blocking, we have achieved an increase on last year’s efforts. It was a record year for gully blocking – almost 10,000 gully blocks constructed (exceeding the previous record of 8,268 in 2019-20), over half of which were peat dams. Gully blocks are a little like speed bumps, slowing the flow of water and holding it for longer on the hills – helping to rewet the moors with a whole host of benefits. It was also a record year for sphagnum planting; just over 1,035 hectares were planted, which is just a little bit over the previous record of 1,004 hectares (2019-20). That’s the equivalent of 1,478 football pitches! Similarly 68 hectares of plug plants were planted including heather, cotton grass and bilberry, which is a little over the previous record of 59.7 hectares, again achieved in 2019-20.

New conservation techniques have also been trialled. Conservation Contracts Manager Steve Maynard says, “Following the proof-of-concept trials in 2019-20, this past year of 2020-21 saw bunds being constructed by us on a landscape scale for the first time – over 100 hectares achieved.”

During this period, the Partnership's Science and Monitoring Team was also hard at work, conducting vegetation and dipwell surveys, producing a new report on single-species sphagnum, monitoring the development of bunds as a means of rewetting the moors, and completing a study of peat pipes (to be published later this year).

The Communications team, meanwhile has been running webinars for our partners and the general public, running a fire aware campaign on social media and launching the Wildfire Log, and preparing for the imminent return of the Bogtastic van.

We’re grateful to all our partners for their efforts over a challenging year, and look forward to continue delivering landscape scale conservation work in partnership into the future.