Management of peat bogs on Harden Moor  

Danny Jackson, Countryside Service Manager at Bradford Council, describes some of the work they are doing on upland moors to provide both climate mitigation and resilience. 

What’s important about blanket bogs? 

Our moorland at Ilkley, Baildon, Harden and Penistone Hill near Haworth contains active blanket bog which is permanently wet due to high levels of rainfall. This helps peat to form, which absorbs carbon and stores it more effectively than trees.  

High levels of rainfall have increased due to global warming, which can cause flooding in the valleys.  Keeping our moors wet and encouraging blanket bog assists with flood reduction and will also make these sites more resilient to wildfire, which is also an increasing threat. 

Large scale natural management across a whole catchment has the most impact but even small, local interventions are worth considering.  

What changes have you made? 

Our Countryside Service are “slowing the flow”. They are blocking ditches and drains to keep the water on the land for longer. They are also planting sphagnum moss which holds the water and forms peat. 

Who do you work in partnership with? 

We work in partnership with the Environment Agency, the Peak District National Park-based Moors for the Future Partnership and Friends of Ilkley Moor.  

Our two natural flood management projects at Harden Moor and at Backstone Beck on Ilkley Moor are funded by the Environment Agency. The Moors for the Future Partnership contributed “Building Blocks” funding for sphagnum planting. 

What benefits are you seeing from your work? 

The work produces a range of multiple benefits or eco-system services – including flood reduction, increased biodiversity, reduction in carbon emissions, increased air and water quality, plus a range of recreational and public health benefits. The wetter moorland will also help reduce the risk or spread of moorland fires.   

The carbon capture and retention benefits of this work will be monitored following baseline carbon storage surveys. 

Have there been any unexpected outcomes? 

We have been pleasantly surprised by the level of public interest and support. 

What are your future plans? 

We are sharing good practice with other landowners. 

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This natural flood management project is an important element of our moorland management – helping to reduce flooding and create favourable conditions for wildlife and carbon storage.  We hope to be able to replicate similar approaches on our other moorland sites, demonstrating our commitment to securing multiple-benefits from these landscapes.”