Sign up for Cumbria Wildlife Trust monthly e-newsletter

We promise you that we never buy or sell data with other organisations so your contact details are safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our e-newsletter.


Upland Wetland Restoration

Restoration in progress at Kinmont Buck BarrowRestoration in progress at Kinmont Buck Barrow. Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is helping landowners protect wetlands on farms across Cumbria, demonstrating new restoration techniques and building partnerships to start to protect Cumbria's peatlands. The project is working on a wide range of important wetland habitats in Cumbria including fens, blanket bog and lowland raised mire. The majority of these habitats occur on relatively deep peat soils which are collectively known as peatlands.

Peatland restoration in action

Watch this short film to find out why this project is so important.



Want to know more?

This next film explain how Cumbria Wildlife Trust is working with farmers to restore peatlands.


Read more about peatland restoration  below and find out how you can help

What are peatlands?

Peatlands are wetlands with a thick, waterlogged layer of soil (peat), made up of decaying plant material. In waterlogged soil without oxygen dead plants cannot rot so they slowly build up as thick layers of peat, taking about 1,000 years per metre depth.

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum Mosses

Bog moss (Sphagnum) is the main peat-forming plant.  It doesn't grow on peatlands - it is the peatland.  Squeeze a handful; the plant holds up to 20 times its own weight in water!  By holding rainwater, moss keeps the surface damp.  It dies below, forming peat that builds above the original water table, holding water tightly.  Though solid, peat is full of water; soft and easily damaged


What's the problem?

Peatlands urgently need careful management.  If the Sphagnum moss is damaged, the surface dries, crumbles and cracks in summer; later rapidly eroding during severe weather.  Peat locks up carbon dioxide ( a greenhouse gas) which plants collect from the atmosphere, but our damaged peatlands are decomposing, releasing carbon back again.

At least 70 per cent of English peatlands are damaged by drainage, heavy grazing, regular burning, cultivation, forestry or other management.  Scotland and Wales appear similar.  Cumbria Wildlife Trust's survey of bogs in the Lake District also confirmed that most have been damaged, prompting us to take action.

Why restore peatlands?

Restoring the balance of nature benefits people and wildlife.  UK governments have recognised the value for money in paying landowners for peatland ecosystem services to buffer society from potentially huge costs of climate change and pollution.

Carbon storage

Peatlands are the UK's largest carbon store - with 28.5 million tonnes in the Lake district alone.  A five per cent loss of UK peat soils would be equal to the entire annual man-made carbon emission.

Water quality and drinking water.

70 per cent of UK drinking water is from upland (generally peat dominated) catchments.

Flood control

Blocking drains slows run-off and wetlands in valleys store floodwater.


Peat has preserved remarkable ancient graves and wooden artefacts that haven't survived elsewhere.


Fascinating specialist species including carnivorous plants have adapted to the harsh peatland environment.  Many have population strongholds in Cumbria.  The most threatened species depend on the wettest bogs or need large areas of continuous habitat.

Cloudberry in flower. Credit Cumbria Wildlife Trust


Credit:Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Red grouse

Credit: Margaret Holland

Small pearl bordered fritillary. Credit David Benham

Small pearl bordered fritillary

Credit:David Benham

How you can help

If you have an area of wetland you might be interested in restoring or want to find out more about volunteering with the project then contact either Brendan ( or Simon  ( or phone 01539 816300


Find out More about this project


This project is supported by



FilenameFile size
cwt_uplandswetland_news_29.08.13_d3_v2_lr_sps_final.pdf916.39 KB
cwt_uplandswetland_news_14.06.12_aw_lr2.pdf1.03 MB
cwt_uplandwetland_dl_6pp_d2_v2_29.08.13_aw_lo_res.pdf802.42 KB