Bolton Fell and Walton Mosses National Nature Reserve, located near Carlisle, is home to one of Western Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats, the lowland raised bog, which can provide a unique home for a variety of plants, animals and insects as well as help to alleviate flooding and store carbon.
The restoration of Bolton Fell by Natural England follows 50 years of extensive damage from the removal of peat and peat-forming vegetation for horticulture, which created unsuitable conditions for specialist bog plants and wildlife such as curlews and redshanks to thrive.
It is now recovering and on track to develop peat forming vegetation and in time will capture and store carbon to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
NNRs were established to protect some of the UK’s most important habitats, species and geology and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research.
There are currently 224 NNRs in England with a total area of over 94,400 hectares – approximately 0.7% of the country’s land surface.
The restoration of the site in Cumbria contributes to the delivery of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan and Natural England’s Conservation Strategy for the 21st Century.
The government is set to launch the England Peat Strategy later this year, which will help set the UK on the course towards the new net zero emissions target for 2050 and contribute towards tackling climate change.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England said: “Since the ice age, our active lowland raised bogs have been storing large amounts of carbon and now play a vital role in combatting the impacts of climate change.
“I am therefore delighted to officially declare Bolton Fell and Walton Moss a National Nature Reserve set to serve the local community and wildlife for future generations to come.”