THOUSANDS of hectares of vital peatland will be restored under ambitious proposals to help tackle climate change and protect biodiversity.

The Government intends to invest more than £50 million in peat restoration, building on its pledge to restore about 35,000 hectares of peatland in England by the end of the term of this Parliament.

As England’s largest carbon store on land, peatlands play a vital role in trapping carbon and also provide a wealth of wider benefits such as improved ecosystems and biodiversity, better water quality and natural flood management.

However, only 13 per cent of England’s peatlands are in a near-natural state. These new projects mark a big step towards achieving our goal to reverse the decline of England’s peatlands and will contribute to the ambitious Nature Recovery Network.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust will collaborate to carry out important restoration works on 16 degraded lowland raised bog sites stretching from Merseyside up to the Scottish border.

This encompasses former extensive areas of the Solway Plains.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Our peatlands are remarkable habitats which provide homes for many precious species and hold enormous amounts of carbon.

“By restoring 35,000 hectares of damaged and degraded peatlands in England, 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be prevented from being released by 2050 which would make a significant contribution to combatting the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said: “Our peatlands exemplify the multiple benefits society can reap from healthy natural systems. They store a vast quantity of carbon, captured from the atmosphere by plants living long ago, they purify and store water, enabling rivers to run steady and clear while at the same time reducing flood risk.”