Distinctive habitats in the Peak District and South Pennine moorlands are set to be monitored and conserved as part of our collaborative work with The University of Leeds.

Experts from the university joined Moors for the Future Partnership (MFFP) team members last month, for site visits at Alport Moor, near Ladybower.

The initial meeting, organised by Dave Chandler, Research and Monitoring Officer at MFFP, gave an opportunity for the teams to look at areas dominated by cotton grass, heather and purple moor grass (Eriophorum, Calluna and Molinia), in order to assess monitoring and conservation ideas.

The partnership work aims to strengthen biodiversity in the unique moorland areas, by increasing the water table of the ground (the amount of soil that is wet). It is hoped that this will encourage carbon storage and peat in the moorlands; support special wildlife and rare species, and help to reduce flooding in nearby catchment areas.

Mike Pilkington, Senior Research and Monitoring Officer at MFFP, said: “The Peak District and South Pennine moorlands are unfortunately in long term decline due to a range of natural and human induced factors. The most significant feature of this decline is the large area of bare and eroding peat and associated damaged vegetation. But there are also problems with single species dominating blanket bog habitats where a greater diversity would help to deliver a wider range of benefits.

“This land has reduced capacity for delivering the ecosystems services that the area has always supplied, for example clean drinking water released slowly over a long period following rainfall, storage of carbon from old vegetation in the form of peat, and reduced flood risk. A healthy, more diverse blanket bog is also beneficial for stock animals and grouse, while providing extensive areas for enhanced recreation. It is therefore vitally important that we work alongside partnership organisations to help aid the restoration and subsequent conservation of our beloved moorlands.”

Members of the university team will meet MFFP staff again for more assessment site visits in the New Year, before equipment is installed and 12 months of baseline monitoring is undertaken at the specialist sites.

The MFFP team will then start on the conservation works including planting of Sphagnum mosses and gully blocking, followed by two years of extensive monitoring to observe how the sites progress.