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Wildlife and water benefits from peatland restoration on Bodmin Moor

12th February 2019

Snipe, curlew, dragonflies and sphagnum mosses are just some of the species that will benefit from recent restoration work carried out on Bodmin Moor.

Last year, a partnership of regional and local organisations including South West Water successfully applied for £2million funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to restore 1,680 hectares of damaged peatland on Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The project is being led by Morag Angus, South West Water’s Exmoor Mires Partnership Manager, and will complement the company’s award-winning Upstream Thinking catchment management programme. It is delivering part of Defra’s 25-year Environment Plan which specifically mentions peatland restoration.

At Park Lake, a former china clay quarry converted to a reservoir on Bodmin Moor, 18 hectares of valley mire have been restored using peat, wood and stone to block drainage ditches. This will enable peat to accumulate again, which in turn will improve water storage, carbon capture and water quality as well as benefiting biodiversity.

Morag explained: “We had to bring in an amphibious 16-tonne specialist digger to carry out the work, which took a week. This is the first time the team have used stone in peatland restoration, but the ditches at Park are deep and wide so it works better and we were able to reuse stone from the old clay works.

“The site is already known for breeding snipe and curlew, but the work will create further suitable habitats not only for these birds but other species such as dragonflies and the all-important peat-forming sphagnum mosses.

“All the efforts put in by a whole raft of people and organisations and the funding from Defra is enabling the South West to protect its precious peatlands and contribute to the local and global need for action on climate change.”

On Dartmoor, unexploded ordnance surveys are taking place before restoration work starts and the team on Exmoor have been collaborating with private landowners and volunteers to carry out peatland restoration and natural flood management works.

Notes to editors

The moors of Bodmin, Dartmoor and Exmoor hold significant regional and national deposits of peat in the form of blanket bogs and valley mires. These wetland habitats are complex ecosystems that support diverse and unique ecology of national and international importance.

Over centuries, human interventions have and still are impacting upon the overall quality and distribution of wetland mire habitats and upland moors. The demise of such wetlands across extensive swathes of the moors has resulted in changes in the moorland ecology, including the loss of iconic species such as dunlin, golden plover, and Sphagnum mosses.

The challenge is to prevent further losses and halt the decline, while improving and restoring these habitats.

 Peatland restoration brings multiple benefits, including:

  • Increasing the peatlands’ resilience to climate change and increasing carbon storage.
  • Improving the hydrological function of the peatlands by improving the quality and quantity of water leaving the  moors.
  • Helping to store and slow the flow of water, potentially reducing the risk of flooding downstream.
  • Restoring the ecosystems that support the recovery of the habitats and associated wildlife.
  • Protecting and increasing our knowledge of our historic environment.
  • Maintaining and improving access.
  • Health and well-being benefits to society both locally and nationally.
  • A greater understanding of and experience for the numerous people who work in and visit these iconic      landscapes.

For further information please contact:

South West Water