Efforts to restore Yorkshire’s vast peat bogs will soon be getting a welcome boost, thanks to a new project being developed by the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP).
The Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Moors for the Future Partnership will be working with the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Durham to develop tools that people can use when they consider how to get the most value from restoring a bog even as the climate changes.
The project team will develop a user-friendly and updated version of a modelling tool called DigiBog. They will also create a ‘menu of methods’ for valuing the benefits of peatland restoration. This will help restoration practitioners plan their programmes to generate maximum social benefit.
Many of Yorkshire’s peat bogs have been damaged by ditch drainage, air pollution and over-grazing. This damage can contribute to loss of wildlife, water discolouration, flooding and, perhaps most worrying of all, a release of more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Millions of pounds are now being invested to rescue these important ecosystems. This gives iCASP an opportunity to inform the way restoration schemes are designed and managed to ensure that as many benefits as possible are delivered.
DigiBog, which runs on many sets of data to show how peat functions under different variables and parameters, will be able to feed reliable information into the restoration planning process. The ‘menu of valuation methods’ will allow restoration practitioners to assess where and how restoration can generate most social benefits.
The academic team, led by Professor Andy Baird and Dr Julia Martin-Ortega at the University of Leeds, will work closely with the Moors for the Future Partnership and the Yorkshire Peat Partnership to increase understanding of how climate change and other changes, such as the way land is used for agricultural purposes, may affect the future functioning of restored peatland. Schemes can then be prioritised to deliver the most socio-economic benefit.