A new £1.2m study is aiming to help protect 22 communities at risk from flooding in the Peak District National Park.

We’ve joined forces with project lead, The University of Manchester, as well as University of Leeds, Durham University and Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire Environment Agency, to look into how landscape-scale conservation could be the most cost-effective way of reducing the threat of flash flooding in rural towns and villages near to steep upland streams and rivers.

Image of high street west in Glossop flooded

The project is funded by NERC (National Environmental Research Council) and aims to develop our knowledge of how to block eroding gullies on the moors, determine the effectiveness of planting Sphagnum mosses, and how new clough woodlands - areas of steep-sided woodland on the edge of open moorland – affect water flow.

Much of the Peak District moors have been stripped of plants and shrubs after decades of industrial pollution in the form of acid rain, and wildfire. Our work to reintroduce vegetation and block eroded gullies is making the ground coarser and denser, helping to slow down the flow of water into streams, rivers and reservoirs when it rains.

Researchers will be working alongside a wider partnership - Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, International Union the Conservation for Nature – to assess how the project might help other communities on a national scale, across the UK.

We are delighted that The University of Manchester has been awarded this funding which is a reflection of the confidence placed in our collaborative work. It builds on previous research, providing evidence that our conservation work on blanket bogs offers substantial protection from flooding.

Professor Martin Evans, Project Lead at The University of Manchester, added: “Our previous work has suggested that moorland restoration has the potential to reduce flood peaks downstream. This funding from NERC will allow us to investigate how these approaches may offer useful flood risk protection to communities living in the headwaters of our rivers.”

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Read more on The University of Manchester website.