Conservationists use glue to help repair UK’s irreplaceable ancient peatland

The vital bogs store millions of tonnes of carbon but flooding has left them in jeopardy

Special glue is being used on Fleet Moss in Yorkshire to help restore the peatland. Photo: Jenny Sharman
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Conservationists are using a specially designed substance to help glue seedlings to the UK's peatland to help restore the precious carbon stores.

The UK has 13 per cent of the world's peat bogs, the majority of which are in Yorkshire.

But over the past few years the Yorkshire Dales peatland, which stores 38 million tonnes of carbon, has reached crisis point with water running off the surrounding hills slowly destroying it.

That has led to polluting sediment entering the UK’s rivers, costing millions to clean, and, critically, the release of carbon from the damaged peat bogs.

Peatland acts as a huge carbon store and, when healthy, is able to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, locking it away for thousands of years.

But damaged or degraded peatland actively leaks carbon, contributing to climate change.

It takes 1,000 years for a metre of peat to form and in one area of the Yorkshire Dales, at Fleet Moss, near Hawes, channels more than 4m deep have appeared.

Now, the Yorkshire Peat Partnership is using equipment used in the US to reseed prairies.

Bioengineering company TerrAffix is using a hydroseeder to spray a mixture of chopped heather, grass seeds, fertiliser and a special adhesive to exposed areas to help the seeds grow.

If it takes, conservationists will then be able to plant various mosses to help repopulate the areas with plant life.

Experts are hoping that it could be rolled out globally if successful.

“This is more experimental than anything I’ve done in peatland restoration before,” Dr Emma Shuttleworth told The Guardian.

“It’s really exciting and it could be the last piece of the puzzle for these really difficult to restore areas of peat.”

Last year the group placed coconut coir logs on to the parkland in the ravaged areas to provide a barrier to the water coming down off the hills and slowing the flow.

The amount of carbon that comes off eroded peatland at present is estimated at 10 million tonnes per year in the UK.

Updated: January 19, 2023, 4:43 PM