Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve extended in size to continue important research into tackling climate change
As from today, Kinder Scout, the National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Derbyshire cared for by the National Trust, will be extended in size by 25 per cent (226 hectares) thanks to a declaration by Natural England.
As the highest point in the Peak District (636m / 2,087ft), this new extension takes the NNR to 1,082 hectares in size (equivalent to 1,000 international rugby pitches), in recognition of the scientific research this area provides to help tackle the climate and nature emergencies.
The extended area includes an ‘outdoor laboratory’ (consisting of scientific monitoring equipment such as dipwells, gauging weirs, and vegetation monitoring quadrats), created in 2010, which has enabled comparisons to take place between the impact of restored peatland against an unrestored control plot, providing valuable data to help improve understanding of the value of peat in natural flood management.
Three organisations, the National Trust, The University of Manchester, and Moors for the Future Partnership, have been studying the effects of this restoration work and the benefits that can help tackle climate change, creating a healthier habitat which attracts different wildlife associated with peatlands to help increase levels of biodiversity.
Professor Tim Allott from The University of Manchester explains the importance of the control area: “The control area has been central to our scientific understanding of restoration on the site – as without it we would not have been able to properly assess the impact of the restoration work in slowing the flow of water on hillsides and reducing flood risk downstream. It also provides a 'museum' of the past damage on Kinder Scout.
“By simply standing within this small remaining ‘island’ of bare peatland, you get a dramatic sense of the scale of transformation of this iconic landscape by looking across the newly restored, vibrant, and diverse habitat which surrounds it.”
The control area has been central to our scientific understanding of restoration on the site – as without it we would not have been able to properly assess the impact of the restoration work in slowing the flow of water on hillsides and reducing flood risk downstream. It also provides a 'museum' of the past damage on Kinder Scout.
Craig Best, General Manager for the Peak District at the National Trust says: “When we started caring for Kinder in 1982 the mountain was a barren moonscape of bare peat, degraded by human activity over the centuries due to pollution, historical land management practices, high visitor numbers and climate change.
“However, following almost 40 years of restoration work with our partners and volunteers, the NNR is being transformed into a plateau of healthy peat bogs rich in vegetation such as cottongrass, and sphagnum moss while creating a strong habitat for wildlife such as mountain hare, upland birds like the golden plover, and the vital invertebrates that make up the basis of the food system. This work will continue alongside the activity on the extended area.”
Techniques trialled to help restore the peat bogs included covering bare peat with rich moorland vegetation and blocking gullies to help keep the moors wetter, which have helped increase the amount of carbon that can be stored as well as helping improve water quality as it filters into streams and reservoirs.
Monitoring data collected over the past decade, using the ‘outdoor laboratory’ in the new area of the NNR, shows this work has reduced erosion of peat by 98 per cent within 18 months of revegetation. It also revealed how different combinations of restoration work has made a significant impact in slowing water flow from the moors to the valleys, to help mitigate flooding.
Craig added: “Kinder has a rich history and was the backdrop to one of the mass trespass activities 90 years ago which led to open access to moorland and the creation of National Parks paving the way for millions of visitors to be able to escape city living and pollution to enjoy some of our most inspiring landscapes and connect with nature.
Commenting on the new declaration, Oliver Harmar, Chief Operating Officer at National England said: “National Nature Reserves were established to protect some of our most important habitats, species and geology, to provide 'outdoor laboratories’ for environmental science and opportunities for people to enjoy nature.
“They are at the heart of our ambition to create a Nature Recovery Network, full of wildlife-rich sites that are bigger, better and more connected. I’m pleased that this vision is very much alive at Kinder Scout, with the expansion demonstrating the power of collaborative action to drive nature recovery, including vital peatland restoration to capture and store carbon.
“Kinder Scout also holds a special place in our national history as the backdrop to the very creation of our National Parks and National Nature Reserves. Today, NNRs, like Kinder Scout, are great places to be inspired and get hands on with nature – they’re free, open and available to all.”
 The monitoring work on the Kinder Scout plateau undertaken by Moors for the Future Partnership and the University of Manchester represents a decade of data that has proved invaluable in understanding natural flood management (NFM) techniques. Since 2016, this monitoring has been financed under the EU Life-funded MoorLIFE 2020 project and has shown that:
· Revegetation of bare peat led to a 98% reduction in erosion of peat into the streams, within 18 months.
· A combination of revegetation, gully blocking and dense sphagnum planting led to a 65% reduction in peak flow (the time it takes for water to reach the valleys) during storm events, 10 years after initial revegetation (and five years after sphagnum planting).
· A combination of revegetation and dense sphagnum planting led to a 2 hours 40 minutes delay in delivery of peak flow during storm events. These NFM benefits increases in bigger storms.