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£249,500 boost for Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Peatland restoration work on Shap Fells. Picture: Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been given £249,500 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The £80 million fund was created to help create and retain thousands of green jobs.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust will restore 300 hectares of peatlands at three sites within the Lake District National Park at Armboth, Tilberthwaite and Shap Fells.

The trust will also survey 3,000 hectares of peatland to develop new peatland restoration sites, securing jobs beyond the life of the project.

Peatlands are unique habitats but surveys in the Lake District confirm that most of them are in poor condition. This project will restore peatlands for wildlife, water quality, flood prevention and for the vital role they play in locking carbon in their soils.

Stephen Trotter, chief executive officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said: “This is fantastic news. The grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will enable us to carry out vital restoration of important peatland sites in the county, as well as create green jobs.

“Peatlands are in trouble. Globally around a quarter of our peatlands have been destroyed.

“In the UK at least 80 per cent are damaged. Unfortunately, the condition of peatland soils in Cumbria is in a similarly poor condition.

“Our survey found that over 95 per cent of peatlands surveyed were in poor management condition, so it’s crucial that we do what we can to repair them, for the sake of wildlife and the environment.

“Damaged peatlands release CO2 into the atmosphere, so it’s hugely important to address this for the climate crisis. We estimate that in their current condition, the Cumbrian peatlands are releasing the equivalent of 222,769 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

“To put this figure into perspective, the carbon cost of visitors, coming to and from the Lake District annually, is estimated to be 941,356 tonnes CO2.

“As well as helping to reduce CO2 emissions, repaired peatlands will also improve the water quality on the sites and reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

“The work will also benefit wildlife that peatlands support: plants like sundews, butterwort and bladderworts have evolved on peatlands to be carnivorous, getting nutrition from small insects like midges.

“Curlew, golden plover and snipe breed in summer on Cumbria’s peat bogs, and short-eared owls and hen harriers hunt across these areas too.”

The trust will carry out the work as part of the Cumbria Peat Partnership, working with the National Trust, United Utilities, Environment Agency and others.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.