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Yorkshire Wildlife Trust press release

Give Peat a Chance and Save the World

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are launching a national appeal to restore the ‘brown and broken’ Yorkshire peatlands to their former glory in an effort to combat climate change and flooding.

Buckden Pike. Photo: Gordon Haycock

Peatlands are the most iconic of Yorkshire’s landscapes, but 80% of them are currently degraded, many severely so. What should be wet, green and wild is instead dry and cracked. Damaged peatlands not only pose a threat for wildlife, they also contribute to large-scale flooding and global climate change.

Most people don’t realise what a terrible situation this is, and not just because healthy peatlands are such joyous landscapes full of colour and life‘ said Rob Stoneman, CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. ‘The truth is that peatlands do so much for us that most people simply don’t know about. For instance, do you know that the world’s peatlands can store more than twice the carbon locked up in all the world’s forests combined?

Peat can only form in very wet conditions, which causes the plants and mosses to decay so slowly they don’t release their carbon back into the atmosphere – and instead keep it locked away in the peat. When peatlands are damaged and the peat is laid bare, however, carbon billows into the atmosphere and becomes yet another contributor to climate change.

Sphagnum cuspidatum. Photo: Beth Thomas

Healthy peatlands are also a natural flood barrier, as they slow the flow of rain water running off the hills. During Christmas 2015, much of Yorkshire was devastated by flash flooding, a terrible event that could well be repeated if the state of Yorkshire’s peatlands remain degraded.

Fortunately, as severely damaged as much of Yorkshire’s peatlands are, it is not too late to save them. Yorkshire Peat Partnership (YPP), an umbrella organisation led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is restoring peatlands in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors to their former glory. Peatland Restoration Officers are working onsite, revegetating bare peat and blocking channels to help make the dry and cracked landscape green and wet once more.   

YPP have already restored nearly 30,000 hectares of peatlands in Yorkshire – that’s equivalent to over 42,000 football pitches!‘ said Clea Grady, Communications and Marketing Manager for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. ‘But there is still so much left to do. We are hoping that once people understand just how important and irreplaceable these landscapes are – not just to Yorkshire, or the UK, but to the world – they will help us save them.

Support Yorkshire Wildlife Trust today by donating to their ‘Give Peat a Chance’ Peatlands Appeal at ywt.org.uk/give-peat-a-chance.  

Cross-leaved heath and Sphagnum forest. Photo: Beth Thomas

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