yellow grasses under a clear blue sky
Degraded peat on Dartmoor
a carnivorous sundew
Peatland wildlife: a carnivorous sundew
close up photograph of mosses

The South West Peatland Project is part of ongoing work to restore degraded peatland areas. Through funding from DEFRA, the South West Peatland Partnership will restore 1599 hectares of degraded peatland on the South West’s iconic moors (Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor). Around 300 hectares of this restoration is taking place on Dartmoor, through work by Dartmoor National Park, a DCE partner.

In the 3 years that the South West Peatland Project ran they worked on 5 restoration sites to block erosion gullies, drainage channels and peat cuttings, and re-wet the peat. In the years following this restoration, peat forming bog plants like sphagnum moss will recolonise restored areas. The re-wetted peat soils will retain water and carbon and peat will begin to form again. These processes are massively important in filtering and slowing the flow of water off the moors, supporting a range of rare peatland species and removing carbon from the atmosphere, mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Dartmoor National Park received funding in 2021 to continue the work of the South West Peatland Project in the next restoration season with plans to raise further funding in future years.

Alongside restoration projects other DCE partners have been involved monitoring and protecting peatlands in the South West. Through their Mires for the Moor project the University of Exeter are supporting restoration efforts by monitoring the effect of upland restoration on habitat status, water quality and natural flood management. Research by the University of Exeter has also been used to map estimates of the extent of peatland degradation on Dartmoor, an important tool for identifying areas of peatland most vulnerable.

How is this helping Devon reach net-zero?

Goal 11.5: Restore and enhance habitats and soils so that they fulfil their natural potential for carbon sequestration and storage.

The restoration of peat bogs contributes to cleaner water down stream, and so eases treatment of drinking water and benefits water quality in rivers and estuaries, helping protect blue carbon.