€12m European Union funding to protect vital UK moorlands
Emma Kennedy - May 23, 2016

Thousands of acres of South Pennines moorland and peat bogs to be better protected as a new EU-funded restoration project gets underway.

The MoorLIFE 2020 project – which received €12m funding from the European Union – will restore and preserve areas of blanket bog developed over thousands of years which are internationally rare due to their high concentration of carbon-storing peat. The project will also provide new habitats for birds and other wildlife, and provide new facilities to boost local tourism.

The five year scheme is run by Moors for the Future Partnership – which brings together partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England and MoorLIFE project, which protected 2,500 hectares of blanket bog in the Peak District and South Pennines between 2010 and 2015, with €5m provided by the EU towards the €6.7m cost.

On a visit to mark the start of work beginning, Minister Rory Stewart highlighted the benefits of the UK’s membership of the EU which makes provides access to additional funding to support environmental conversation.

The EU’s LIFE fund supports environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the UK, and Europe.

Benefits of the project include:

  • Enriching biodiversity to provide breeding habitats for moorland plants, birds, insects, mammals and amphibians.
  • Improving water quality in our reservoirs and rivers.
  • Reducing fire risk as wetter moorlands resist the spread of wildfires which can release tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and devastate wildlife habitats.
  • Retaining carbon in the soil which is a major factor in action on climate change. Peatlands are the UK’s biggest carbon store, holding 40-50% of its carbon, but bare, damaged peat releases it to the wind.
  • Reducing flood risk in towns and villages as re-vegetated moorland reduces the flow-rate and volume of downpours into our rivers and streams.
  • Boosting the local economy by attracting more visitors to use local holiday accommodation, shops, cafes and pubs.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

“EU membership provides clear benefits for our natural environment, both at home and abroad.

“Funding provided from the EU to the Moors for the Future Partnership, will ensure the protection of our distinct landscapes and priority international habitats across the South Pennines.

“Through partnership working, crucial conservation and scientific work, alongside innovative techniques, we can fully understand and protect our moorland habitats for future generations.

“We can protect and enhance the environment far more effectively if EU countries continue to work together as part of a reformed European Union.”