In 2019, Conservefor were appointed to undertake a large scale peatland restoration project on Wemmergill and Cotherstone Moors in country Durham.

Project Aims

The aim of the peatland restoration project was to restore areas of exposed and eroding peat, employing techniques to block active gullies, and re-profile gully sides back to an angle of 45 degrees to slow erosion, promote plant establishment and stabilise the water table.

Once these aims were achieved, the areas of exposed peat would have 50,000 Cotton grass plugs plants introduced and be covered in heather brash, lime, seed and fertiliser.

The objective of the brash is to not only introduce heather seed and to stabilise the ground surface, but also provide a microclimate of more favourable conditions for seeds to germinate and survive.

Works undertaken

  • 8km of gully re-profiling
  • Installation of 328 stone dams
  • Supply Installation of 450 coir rolls
  • Introduction of 50,000 cotton grass plug plants
  • Spreading of lime, fertiliser and seed over 7ha of exposed peat
  • Supply and spreading of 2100 bags of heather brash over 7ha of exposed peat
  • Helicopter lift of all materials onto site

Project Implementation

Our experienced peatland restoration team began by using excavators fitted with 900mm wide tracks and power tilt attachments to re-profile the gully sides back to 45 degrees. These specially adapted excavators ensure the work can be carried out with minimal impact to the surrounding moorland by reducing the need to reposition the machinery and reducing ground pressure when movement is required.

Heather brash was harvested form well vegetated areas of the moor using our tracked Yanmar Tractor. The harvested areas were cut to mimic the pattern of tradition heather burning strips reducing the visual impact to the moorland.  The heather brash was harvested from the local moor to prevent the transfer of tick, heather beetle and other diseases.

Our peatland restoration team used a helicopter to move all materials required for the damming and revegetation process into place. This eliminates the need for multiple trips with heavy loads across the moorland.

Once the materials were lifted into place our team began installing the coir rolls by hand and shaping the stone dropped by the helicopter into small dams in the gully bottoms.

The revegetation process was completed by introducing the cotton grass plugs into wet areas of exposed peat, followed by the spreading of the lime, seed, fertilizer and heather brash by hand, over the remaining exposed peat.