Conservation efforts on moorland in the Peak District and South Pennines is helping slow stormwater run-off, raise the water table and increase plant species, according to new research.
Research carried out by the Moors for the Future Partnership and the University of Manchester surveyed 12 years’ worth of data on work to improve the health of the moorlands through the reintroduction of native plants.
The research looked at the number of different plant species in the area, the depth of the water table and how much and how often water flows off the moors.
The study confirmed the work has increased the number of different plant species living there, raised the water table and kept stormwater on the hills for longer.
Dr Mike Pilkington, senior research and monitoring officer at the Moors for the Future Partnership said: "This research, resulting from more than a decade of monitoring, shows the conservation work we do has a substantial and statistically significant effect on returning blanket bog habitat to a healthy state.
"Healthy peatlands provide a wide range of benefits including providing a supply of good quality raw water for the water companies to process for millions of customers; a habitat for rare and beautiful plants and wildlife; a means of absorbing and slowing the flow of stormwater, and a store of carbon."
Martin Evans, professor of geomorphology at the University of Manchester, added: "The trajectories for plant species, water table and slowing of storm flow were all positive and showed that restoration works are helping to return the moors to a healthier condition."
Evans and his colleagues will continue to with the Moors for the Future Partnership as part of the MoorLIFE 2020 project to examine whether the reintroduction of Sphagnum mosses on the uplands has a positive effect on improving water quality while reducing flood risk.