A campaign to help save Yorkshire’s precious peatlands has been a great success, raising thousands which will go towards its restoration.
Give Peat a Chance is just one of the highlights in the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s year which communications officer, Harriet Lawrence, describes as ‘one of its best yet’ and including the opening of a new reserve. Here she tells us a little more.
Firstly, we would like to say a massive thank you to all of our wonderful supporters who helped make 2019 one of our best yet.
We achieved so much for Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places, and we couldn’t have done any of it without you.
We ran the biggest appeal the trust has ever undertaken, and asked the people of Yorkshire and beyond to ‘Give Peat a Chance’ and help save our precious peatlands.
Peatlands – also referred to as uplands, moorlands and blanket bog – are some of our most ancient and iconic landscapes, and Yorkshire is home to 24 per cent of England’s peatlands.
Wildlife artist Robert Fuller tracks the barn owls' winter fight for survival
The roots of a recycling venture in Boroughbridge
Once viewed as wasted land, we now understand peatlands to be some of the most important landscapes on earth.
They are an amazing carbon store – although they only cover 3 per cent of the earth’s surface, the world’s peatlands store twice as much carbon as all standing forests. Keeping all that carbon locked up in the earth is crucial in our fight against climate emergency.
Peatlands are also a natural flood defence; thriving peatlands slow the flow of water from the hills and reduce the risk of flooding.
They even help filter our drinking water – 70 per cent of UK drinking water comes from upland areas dominated by peatlands.
Our peatlands are amazing, but they’re in trouble.
Peat can only do all these incredible things when its wet, and around 80 per cent of Yorkshire’s peatlands have dried out.
But though they are damaged, they are not beyond saving. Yorkshire Peat Partnership, an umbrella organisation led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is restoring peatlands in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors to ensure the long-term future of these landscapes.
We ran the ‘Give Peat a Chance’ appeal to raise money to aid this vital work, and to help spread the message of the wonder of peatlands across the country.
Less than one year later, we are thrilled to announce that we have raised a whopping £80,000 for Yorkshire’s peatlands!
This incredible success was the highlight of our year, and we can’t thank our supporters enough for helping us achieve this amazing goal.
Though peatlands was our focus of 2019, our work didn’t stop there.
In the winter we ran an appeal to raise money for our nature reserves.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has over 100 nature reserves all across Yorkshire, havens for wildlife and for people too, and every year we spend over £1m protecting them.
We rely on public support to keep these special wild places the very best for wildlife, and we’re so grateful to everyone who supported our appeal.
We also opened a brand new nature reserve this year – Ripon City Wetlands.
Built in the footprint of a working quarry, it’s now a haven for wildlife and already attracting little egret, ringed plover and bittern.
We are continuing to campaign for threatened nature reserve Askham Bog. Nestled on the outskirts of York, Askham Bog is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s oldest nature reserve and has been described as a ‘cathedral of nature conservation’ by Sir David Attenborough.
A planned development adjacent to the reserve threatens its status as an internationally renowned home for wildlife, and throughout 2019 we fought against the plans, first successfully at local level and then at a public inquiry alongside City of York Council.
Thank you to everyone who helped us fight for Askham Bog in 2019; we’re now awaiting the recommendation from the planning inspector which is expected in February.
Our marine work also progressed in leaps and bounds.
We successfully reintroduced oysters to the Humber estuary for the first time in 70 years.
And, following ten years of tireless campaigning, we secured a brighter future for the North Sea following the announcement of 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), two of which are found in Yorkshire waters.
And we’re not planning on stopping there.
We have big marine plans in 2020 – so watch this space to hear more about Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s exciting new campaigns, events and projects going into the New Year.
If you would like to help right now, we are still taking donations for Our Wild Yorkshire appeal at ywt.org.uk/support-us/donate/our-wild-yorkshire.
Or perhaps you would like to join Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as a member. To find out more go to ywt.org.uk/membership. There has never been a better time to stand up for wildlife.