Peatland specialists from the UK restoration project Pennine PeatLIFE have visited their twinning partners from the Hydrology LIFE Finland on the second leg of a peatland expertise exchange. Along with colleagues from the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and the Environment Agency, members of the Pennine PeatLIFE team joined Finnish partners from Hydrology LIFE to share world-leading knowledge and expertise.

Pennine PeatLIFE is an EU LIFE Programme project, restoring peatlands in sites of our member the North Pennines AONB, the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland AONB. It is co-financed by Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water. During a four day visit the Pennine PeatLIFE team looked at how peatlands are restored in the different conditions further north. This followed a visit by Hydrology LIFE and the Eurosite Economics and Ecosystem Services Working Group to the North Pennines AONB earlier in the year in March. The peat specialists from each country were keen to discover how differing restoration techniques could be applied on their home patch. In both legs of the exchange the Pennine PeatLIFE team demonstrated survey techniques using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

There are numerous benefits to the environment and to society of restoring damaged peatlands. They play a vital role in mitigating climate change through carbon storage, and also provide wildlife habitats, improve water quality and help to reduce the risk of flooding through slowing the flow.

Tuomas Haapalehto, Project Manager at our member Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, said:

“In our exchange visit to the North Pennines AONB earlier this year we learned a lot about the techniques used in the UK for peatland restoration. We were delighted to host the return leg of this visit and have been able to share the knowledge and success of our restoration projects here in Finland.”

Launched in October 2017, the £6 million Pennine PeatLIFE project aims to restore a huge 1,300 hectares of bog – space enough for over 1,000 cricket matches to be held all at once. In addition to the ecosystem service benefits that restored peatlands bring to society, the project will spend the majority of the £6 million in the local economies of the North Pennines, Nidderdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales National Park over the course of its restoration work.

The Hydrology LIFE project safeguards peatlands, small water bodies and important bird lakes in 103 Finnish Natura 2000 areas. These environments have undergone major changes in recent decades. The restoration measures recover the degraded habitats towards the original state vital for many valuable species. Many functions important for humans, including e.g. flood protection, water quality and game areas, will also be improved.

 

Photo: ©Jari Ilmonen