Peatland restoration projects in Lancashire are three of a dozen new schemes to be awarded funding to help tackle climate change and boost biodiversity.

More than £50 million is being spent by the Government on peat restoration, aiming to restore around 35,000 hectares of peatland in England by the end of 2024.

One project to benefit from the cash is the Red Rose Project, which aims to restore more than 400 hectares of degraded lowland and upland peatlands within the Lancashire area.

This project is set to build on the Peatland Discovery Grants of 2021 which enabled restoration plans to be developed as a baseline for data collection and landowner engagement.

To the south of the county the Holcombe Moor project will restore 135 hectares of peatland using innovative techniques to raise the water levels on blanket bog which has degraded due to industrial pollution, overgrazing and wildfire.

The location of the site will provide opportunities for local people to take part in guided walks and connect with nature on their doorsteps.

Finally, a partnership between the National Trust, the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust and will restore more than 1,370 hectares of peatlands across the Forest of Bowland and the uplands of Cumbria.

Peatlands are an iconic feature of England’s landscape - often referred to as ‘our national rainforest’.

They contain over half of the country’s terrestrial carbon stores and provide a haven for wildlife, as well as supporting better water quality and natural flood management.

However, 87 per cent of England’s peatlands are degraded, damaged and dried out, emitting tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

 The funding from government will help restore these environments, in turn helping protect wildlife and restore their critical ability to manage water quality and reduce the risk of flooding.

Rebecca Pow, environment minister, said: “Our peatlands hold over half of our terrestrial store of carbon, but with just one per cent in a near natural state and soils drying out we must take urgent action to prevent further carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere.

“Backed by over £16 million of government funding these new landscape-scale projects will drive collaboration and supercharge peatland restoration across the country to tackle climate change and fight biodiversity loss.”

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, added: “Peatlands bring multiple benefits for society and the economy.

“They are huge carbon stores and also massive water filters that enable rivers to run clear. They comprise vital natural flood defences because of how they store water and on top of that support, they support many iconic wildlife species such as the Curlew.

“Wild peatlands also contribute to public health and wellbeing through providing wonderful opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“Restoring peatland landscapes to a healthy ecological state will ensure these benefits are protected, enhanced and handed on to future generations.

“I’m delighted these grants will bring more peatlands into the Nature Recovery Network that is so important for delivering our ambition for improving the natural environment in England.”

Philip Duffy, chief executive of the Environment Agency, also said: “Peat and peat soils are a great national asset, and better management can achieve so much to tackle climate change, boost biodiversity and support sustainable agriculture.

“Our discovery pilot is the chance for farmers and land managers to understand how changing the water levels in their lowland peat soils could create new opportunities for long-term sustainable agriculture. I urge anyone working with lowland peat who is interested to get in touch and apply.”