Rewetting rushy mires in Upper Wharfedale

 Farming at Buckden, Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

Upper Wharfedale, at the head of the River Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is a landscape of steep, rocky limestone slopes below peat-covered plateaux, where the peat is eroded. Find out how we've been tackling the problem.

Solving the problem 

The bog has been severely degraded by drainage and over-grazing, with some areas degenerating to species-poor acidic grasslands and stands of soft rush. Biffaward supported our work with the Yorkshire Peat Partnership to map and assess the bare peat areas, and construct plans for stabilisation.
The extensive areas of gently sloping mire on shallow peat are criss-crossed with ditches, drying out the peat, and leading to domination of the landscape by very large tussocks of soft rush. Dinsdale’s, peatland restoration specialists, surveyed and prioritised over 20km (approx. 12½ miles) of ditch prior to blocking. In all, around 15km (9 miles) of ditches were blocked by peat dams and re-profiling.
This work inspired similar action on peat bogs elsewhere on our Upper Wharfedale and Malham Tarn estates. It will also contribute to a landscape-scale Yorkshire Peat Partnership Project to restore 35,000ha of peatland by 2017.
We are also grateful for the valuable help of the Wharfedale Naturalists Society who have carried out baseline vegetation monitoring.

What we’ve achieved with Biffaward’s support

  • Restoration of 250ha of blanket bog and other mire types
  • 15km of ditches blocked using peat dams to re-wet the peat and restore peatland function
  • Evidence that both peatland and other habitats, including acid grassland and aquatic and marginal communities of the River Wharfe and the river itself, are benefiting
  • A wide range of fauna, including at least seven Nationally Rare, Scarce or Notable invertebrate species and 15 Birds of Conservation Concern, are benefiting; the breeding habitat has been improved for six of these birds
  • Botanical monitoring of the Redmire project site indicates an expansion of Sphagnum moss and decline in the area covered by purple moor-grass and soft rush Juncus effusus