A NEW group has been launched that will exchange expertise across Europe to help in the fight against climate change and restore some of our most vital habitats.

Launched by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership in collaboration with environmental network Eurosite, the group will bring together peatland restoration experts to share the science and practice behind the work they do on sites across Europe.

As lead partner of the EU-funded Pennine PeatLIFE project, staff from the North Pennines AONB Partnership will chair the new Peatland Restoration Working Group. Setting up the group is one of the objectives of Pennine PeatLIFE, and will allow experts to share scientific research and expertise as well as the practical restoration and monitoring techniques which have been developed across the EU.

Damaged peatlands release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but once restored they act as a carbon sink. Emissions from damaged peat contribute to about 10 per cent of the EU’s total carbon dioxide emissions and as such their restoration and sustainable management are an important tool to help mitigate climate change. Restored and healthy peatlands are also important habitats for plants and animals, and mitigate against flooding by slowing the flow of water to lowland areas.

Kristijan Civic, network development manager of Eurosite said: “Our members have been sharing knowledge between similar sites for more than 30 years. We are now looking at a different approach where we work together on a topic of joint interest.

“Peatland restoration is a topic that has gained a lot of importance in the light of the climate change discussions and is gaining importance with countries in the North-West Europe, both among Eurosite members and beyond.”

Paul Leadbitter from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, explained: “As part of our European funded Pennine PeatLIFE project we will be working with our European partner Eurosite to bring together past and current peatland restoration projects to learn from what has gone before, share research and practice and coordinate the future efforts of peatland restoration.”

Any organisations involved in peatland restoration or with relevant research experience can email Mr Leadbitter at the North Pennines AONB Partnership for more information on pleadbitter@northpenninesaonb.org.uk