Work to restore huge areas of moorland across the South Pennines and Peak District National Park is underway. The €16 million MoorLIFE 2020 project will take five years.
Its aim is to protect the integrity of 95 sq km of active blanket bog through re-vegetating bare peat, improving hydrology and diversifying existing vegetation.
The work is necessary, say the Moors for the Future Partnership, who are running the project, because the blanket bogs are at significant risk, with large areas devastated by 150 years of atmospheric pollution and wildfires.
In this first phase, erosion gullies on the Howden and Derwent Moors will be blocked to raise the water table and re-wet the landscape.
One consequence for walkers, says Henry Folkard, the BMC's Access Coordinator in the Peak District, is that where water is retained and boggy habitats are reinstated, the ground will obviously become wetter.
However, he says, 'the result will be a better experience in terms of enjoying a special landscape with a healthy biodiversity, even if it is wise to take the increase in some wetter areas, and the impact of newly blocked gullies, into account when planning your route.'
'The BMC has always been a strong supporter of the Moors for the Future Partnership' Henry continues.
'The excellent results it has achieved, for example on Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder, are a testament to its outstanding success for all to see.'
'Now, under Moorlife 2020, it is possible to extend this pioneering habitat restoration work to further areas of blanket bog on open access land, including some that are in private ownership.'
The benefits promise to be significant, thinks Henry, from habitat restoration and biodiversity, and the chance that this will offer to enjoy a wilder landscape, to carbon capture and better water control.
'Reinstatement of eroded bridleways across these moors, and the creation of a new way accessible to motor propelled vehicles, has caused the BMC and others much concern because of the nature, and in places quality of the work' he says.
'This work is not funded by MoorLIFE 2020. The good news is that the BMC, along with the Ramblers and Fell Runners, are now being properly consulted on the extent and design of such work, aspects of which remain controversial.'
The latest conservation work will be backed by extensive scientific monitoring to evaluate the success of various methods developed and trialled. Community engagement is also promised, to highlight why healthy moorlands are important.