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Restoring peat on Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate

Holcombe Moor landscape views
Holcombe Moor landscape views | © Annapurna Mellor

We’re working hard to restore, conserve and manage Holcombe Moor’s precious peat to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, improve habitats for wildlife and protect local communities from flooding. Find out about the work carried out so far and future plans.

Damaged peat bogs

Holcombe's moorland is a precious environment, but the impact of the Industrial Revolution, wildfires, overgrazing and erosion from wind and rain has caused significant damage. These pressures have resulted in a dry and exposed peat surface with limited vegetation cover, reducing valuable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including breeding birds.

The importance of peat bogs

Healthy peat bogs are wet and covered by specialist plants which are resilient to very acidic conditions. Eventually these plant communities decompose slowly to form new peat. This process is important not only because it traps large volumes of carbon but also because healthy upland bogs help slow the flow of water and prevent flooding further downstream.

Peatland bogs are also important habitats for special and protected species of plants and animals. Golden plover, curlew, dunlin, and the common lizard, are just a few examples.

Our work so far

September 2020 - Ongoing

Creating stone and peat dams

During the late summer of 2020, helicopters airlifted approximately 500 tonnes of locally quarried stone and expertly positioned the drops to create permeable structures.

These dams help to slow water movement during high rainfall and keep water on the peatland for longer, therefore reducing the risk of flooding further downstream. So far 500 stone and peat dams have been created, with plans to build a further 60.  

Permeable dams to restrict the flow of flood water on Holcombe Moor
Permeable dams to restrict the flow of flood water on Holcombe Moor | © Annapurna Mellor
Rangers and volunteers, Holcombe Moor
Rangers and volunteers, Holcombe Moor | © Annapurna Mellor

Working together

The important work to restore precious peatland on Holcombe Moor began in 2020. Funded by DEFRA’s Moor Carbon fund, the National Trust worked closely with Natural England, Moors for the Future, the Holcombe Moor Commoners’ Association and Environment Agency. More recently our academic partner, The University of Manchester has joined the team to establish a long-term monitoring programme to assess progress.

Works planned from winter 2023 to spring 2025 are part funded by National Trust and Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme.

Rangers and volunteers on Holcombe Moor


Everyone needs nature and outdoor space, now more than ever, and as a charity we rely heavily on your support and generosity. Your support plays a vital role in allowing us to protect Holcombe Moor and Stubbins Estate’s natural landscape and rich wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

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