WORK to manage peat bogs on moorland sites could play a key role in climate change through carbon storage, flood management and reducing the risk of fires.

Bradford Council’s Countryside Service manages moorland at Ilkley, Baildon and Harden, as well as Penistone Hill near Haworth.

All these sites contain active blanket bog - an area of terrain which is permanently wet due to high levels of rainfall. These conditions help peat bogs to form, which absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and stores it even more effectively than trees.

To maximise this positive effect on the environment, the Countryside Service is working to maintain and retain these blanket bogs. They are achieving this by re-wetting the moors by blocking ditches and drains, which keeps water on open moorland for longer; slowing the flow of water into the valleys and planting sphagnum moss which holds water and forms peat.

Campaigners hop across the moors to the Toad Summit

As well as storing carbon, this work helps to reduce flooding in the valleys below the moors and helps make the moorland more resistant to wildfire. The Council has also worked with West Yorkshire Fire Service to put out the message about the effects of wildfire.

In its recent budget proposals, the Council has committed £200,000 towards this work, from 2021 onwards, as part of its response to the climate emergency.

Some of this funding may also be used to carry out surveys of the peat to measure how much carbon it stores.

The Countryside Service is currently working on two natural flood management projects aimed at re-wetting and encouraging peat (as well as flood reduction), funded by Environment Agency on Harden Moor and at Backstone Beck on Ilkley Moor.

The Harden Moor work is due to be completed by April by which time the service will have carried out the re-wetting work by diverting the flow of water on the moor, planted 27,000 sphagnum moss plants and a small number of trees, and installed leaky dams in Deep Cliff Woods.

The Backstone Beck is due to be carried out in late summer or early autumn this year and includes slowing the flow of water on the moor, more sphagnum planting and planting trees in the cloughs.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Bradford Council is committed to tackling climate change in every area of its work.

"Management of our moorlands and peat bogs can play a vital role in this work, as well as multiple other benefits. We will also continue to work with other partner organisations and community groups to find ways to reduce carbon emissions and make the district cleaner and greener.”