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Preserving our peatland

Rangers inspecting the landscape at Kinder Scout, Derbyshire
Rangers inspecting the landscape at Kinder Scout, Derbyshire | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Peat is hugely important to the environment, acting as a carbon store, wildlife habitat and flood controller. We’re restoring, conserving and managing the peatlands in our care to combat climate change and save these precious areas for generations to come.

Why is peat so important?

Peat is vital to the environment as it helps provide multiple ecosystem services:

  • It acts as a carbon store; UK peatland stores more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France and Germany
  • It's a unique habitat for a variety of rare species
  • It can help to clean and slow the flow of water, as it can hold up to 20 times its weight in water
  • It also informs archaeological research, as it preserves a record of past vegetation, landscapes and people.

Peat must remain wet to perform these functions, however it's been cultivated, drained and degraded for centuries.

When it's dry, peat is easily eroded and washed away. It releases carbon dioxide and is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas, as well as becoming a fire hazard.

Peatlands in our care

We look after 40 peatland Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 3 per cent of raised bogs, significant fens and valley mires, and huge tracts of blanket bog. Our peatlands in England and Wales hold 2 per cent of the total carbon in the UK, in soil and vegetation.

Some of our peatland has been damaged in the past by drainage, over-grazing, burning and extraction. We’re working hard to reverse these negative impacts and are now managing and restoring many areas to create resilient eco-systems, which will increase carbon storage capacity and reduce emissions.

A wide shot of a gully that has formed from peat erosion at Kinder Scout, Derbyshire
Gully formed from peat erosion at Kinder Scout, Derbyshire | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

How we’re looking after peatland

Providing resilient ecosystems

We’re working hard to reverse the decline of peatlands, managing and conserving them to increase their carbon storage capacity and reduce emissions. This is important for the land, alongside biodiversity, food production and water storage.

So far, we've blocked gullies to stop water draining away. This may look invasive initially, but vegetation will slowly grow back across the peat, stopping further erosion.

Working in partnership

We're working with both local and national partners at many of the peatlands in our care. Our collaboration with other organisations means that we can engage communities in our work, restore areas more quickly and fund research for other projects in the future.

Going peat free

The extraction of peat for use in garden compost continues to damage peatland across Europe. We’ve committed to going peat free in all of our gardening work, including at nurseries, gardens and in the plants for sale in our shops.

Cloudy view of a blanket bog with scrubby vegetation around it and mountains in the distance
View across the blanket bog on the Migneint at Ysbyty Ifan, Snowdonia | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Where we're restoring peatland


Abergwesyn Common

We're working to restore the peatland at Abergwesyn Common in Powys, which has been damaged by fires and overgrazing. The area covers 6,677ha of upland, including 1,000ha of peat. 

The Welsh Peatland Sustainable Management Scheme Project, supported by Biffa Award, has restored 600ha of peatland so far. The Abergwesyn Hill Restoration Project, supported by the Welsh National Peatland Action Programme and Starling Bank, will restore 141ha of peat and enable feasibility studies to help restore more peat in future years. 

Find out more about Abergwesyn Common

Ranger removing debris from the hydro at Watendlath, Cumbria

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