Fens project wins £800,000 to unlock peat's climate potential

Eliot Lyne, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, pictured with NWT Roydon Common

Eliot Lyne, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which is part of a partnership working to restore peatlands in areas such as Roydon Common (pictured) - Credit: Archant / David North

A climate-friendly project aiming to bring degraded peatland back to life across the Fens has been awarded an £815,877 government grant.

The Fens East Peat Partnership (FEPP) was awarded the “discovery grant” from the Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme.

The money will pay for a feasibility study to investigate the state of peat on 20 sites and neighbouring areas across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

The partnership then aims to develop site restoration plans which could boost their capacity to store carbon, protect against flooding and provide habitats for wetland wildlife such as dragonflies, bitterns, cranes and otters.

The project is led by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust on behalf of the National Trust, Natural England, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB and the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Eliot Lyne, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said these organisations have been working together across the Fens for many years.

“The Fens, which cover significant parts of west Norfolk, as well as Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, make up one of the largest areas of remaining lowland peat in the country," he said.

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“In Norfolk we will be working with landowners across seven sites in and around the west of the county, including NWT Roydon Common, Natural England’s Dersingham Bog as well as areas of privately-owned farmland.

“Together, we are investigating the potential to restore as much as 1,100 hectares of peat soils across the county.

“By exploring the best places to regenerate areas of peatland and supporting the development of innovative land management practices for this special environment, we can protect and enhance a vital resource for both wildlife and people."

NWT Roydon Common

NWT Roydon Common - Credit: NWT

The FEPP project is one of 10 projects from across the country to have been awarded Nature for Climate Peatland Discovery Grants.

Another is cross-sector partnership led by the Broads Authority, which has been awarded £800,000 to explore peatland restoration and new farming methods to prevent carbon losses on 13 sites in the Norfolk Broads.

Although peatlands are Earth’s largest natural terrestrial carbon store, an estimated 87pc of England's peatlands are degraded, meaning instead of capturing carbon they emit an estimated 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.

The Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme aims to capture this carbon by setting 35,000ha of degraded peatland on a path to restoration by 2025.

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