Cash boost for Manchester peat land project

by Published Wed 10 Jun 2009 18:40
£25k grant to restore precious landscape

Environmental engineering company and water expert MWH has made a donation to Lancashire Wildlife Trust to enable them to restore peat land and bogs across the Northwest, helping to reduce CO2 release from degraded peat, and protecting unique wildlife habitat.

MWH Graduate Engineer Marie Kelly suggested the donation to support the work of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which is carrying out the restoration work. She explains: “Peat land, which consists of lowland raised peat bog, and upland blanket bog, is an irreplaceable resource which plays an important role in absorbing carbon. The Northwest region has the largest concentration of lowland raised bogs in England – 38% of the total.

“Peat land is still being dug for fuel and agriculture, and is subsequently drying out and becoming degraded. Because of this, peat land is starting to leak the CO2 that has been locked inside it for centuries. It is estimated that a 700 sq km area of the southern Pennine hills could alone be leaking CO2 equivalent to a town with a population of 50,000”, adds Marie.

Peat restoration is widely regarded as an extremely important way to reduce carbon emissions. Scientists from Durham and Manchester universities estimate that peat restoration in England and Wales could absorb around 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – equivalent to taking 84,000 family cars off the road.

The £25,000 grant has come from MWH’s recently-established Carbon Care Fund. “When MWH appealed to staff for ideas for community-based environmental projects they could fund from the Carbon Care Fund, I suggested peat restoration. I was familiar with the work of the Wildlife Trust and the Moors for the Future group which are working on peat restoration projects, and appreciated the importance of peat lands as areas which have absorbed and locked in past CO2 deposits and that will continue to absorb CO2 in the future, if maintained and protected.”

Commenting on MWH’s donation Rosslyn Colderley of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust said: “I would like to thank MWH for its generous donation. As part of our ‘Living Landscapes’ Mosslands Project we have been able to buy a site called Cadishead Moss (part of the Chat Moss complex to the west of Manchester) with funding from Natural England.

"The site had previously been used for peat extraction, and still had a valid planning permission. Now that we have secured the site, we can use the money from MWH for active restoration, and of course no more peat will ever be extracted on this site."

Internal ditches will be blocked and birch scrub removed which has invaded the site. A ditch will also be dug around the perimeter area. The spoil from this will be piled up to form a protective ridge around the land, serving to contain water

“All these measures are designed to stop drying out and keep water on the site. We know from our other work that when we do this we will be able to restore the sphagnum moss and other vegetation characteristic of moss lands that absorb carbon and create new peat. We will also be encouraging species like water voles that love this kind of wetland habitat.

“We are very grateful to MWH for helping us to conserve one more fragment of threatened mossland. We intend to buy other sites and restore them too if we are successful in raising further funding”, concluded Rosslyn.

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