Article Types News BMC volunteers have planted over 16,000 sphagnum plugs this winter

BMC volunteers have planted over 16,000 sphagnum plugs this winter


BMC Peak Area volunteer Peter Judd and his group near Kinder Scout

The sphagnum-planting season has come to an end to allow the ground-nesting birds to, well, ground nest! Thank you to all the volunteers that have helped the BMC to plant over 16,000 plugs of this super soggy, carbon-locking moss this winter, helping to restore the Peak District peat bog.

This work has been done as part of Get Stuck In days for the BMC’s Mend Our Mountains campaign and The Climate Project, in partnership with Moors for the Future. Coordinated by two fantastic volunteers, Hill Walking Rep Steve Charles and BMC Peak Area volunteer Peter Judd, this winter saw three volunteer work parties and one BMC staff group heading out into the icy, rainy and boggy Peak District armed with rolls of sphagnum and dibbers to poke them into the peat.

The tools of the trade - sphagnum and a dibber

Dr. Cath Flitcroft and colleague Jon Fullwood plant sphagnum in the Goyt Valley

Planting sphagnum is the final part of the peatbog restoration process and it can only be done by hand. Dr. Cath Flitcroft, BMC Senior Policy & Campaigns Manager says, “A healthy peat bog can sequester and store so much more carbon than most of the forests across Europe, and that's just for the peat bogs here in the UK alone.

"So they're a vital resource in the fight against climate change, but unfortunately, a lot of them are not in great state. Acid rain, wildfires and so on have just ripped the surface of the vegetation off. So the work of Moors for the Future is to try and tackle that. This amazing plant is the final part of that restoration story. It will retain water and keep that moisture locked in the bog system and help to capture carbon and seal it off.”

Sphagnum planting instructions from Moors for the Future

Back in November 2023, 2,500 sphagnum plugs were planted on the moorland above Birchen Clough near Glossop. Then in March 2024, 5,000 were planted by 20 volunteers in the Goyt Valley, west of Buxton, and 3,800 by nine BMC volunteers on Seal Flat on the northern side of Kinder Scout. This third one included some Mountain Training Association (MTA) members, braving strong wind, hail and rain. Lastly, a BMC staff day, also in March, in the Goyt Valley saw 20 of us planting 4,800 sphagnum plugs, bringing the grand total to 16,100.

Sphagnum stats

This is what Moors for the Future have achieved on the Goyt this restoration season (2023-2024)

387 peat dams, 124 timber dams and 226 stone dams installed

486m of reprofiling work

384,000 sphagnum plugs (360,000 by contractors, 24,000 by volunteers)

Next year we plan to plant a further 409,000 sphagnum moss plugs

Sphagnum can only be planted by hand

Planting is simple but time-consuming

BMC Peak Area volunteer Peter Judd describes the experience:

What do you like best about the sphagnum planting days?

When you've planted a reel of 20 sphagnum plugs and look back to see those bright green little dots sticking just proud of the bog behind you a real sense of satisfaction glows within as you realise that, with luck, these little green dots will grow and spread into a self sustaining mat of heathy sphagnum carbon capturing bog, for hopefully many centuries to come!

What is the camaraderie like despite the howling weather?

Everyone is so keen and cheerful on these Get Stuck In days, despite the weather, even though it's quite hard work with plenty of bending down, but with such fine mountain views to sustain you when you pause and the sense of achievement as work progresses, what's not to enjoy?

Why is this project so important to you personally?

Of all the volunteering I've done, planting sphagnum seems the most worthwhile. The impact of climate change is becoming ever more apparent in the uplands so an opportunity to do something to fight back seems vital to grab, especially as I use a car to reach the hills more than I should. I'm being offered an opportunity to something on the positive side, it's important I take that!

Your word of thanks to your fellow volunteers?

It's no exaggeration to say it feels positively life-affirming to discover how keen other people are to Get Stuck In in planting sphagnum, especially when they rock up keen as mustard on grim weather days like we've had, they're all utter stars! Here's to next time.

Find out more about volunteering with the BMC here.

BMC campaigns Mend Our Mountains and The Climate Project are funded by BMC charity the Access & Conservation Trust (ACT).

Carrying sphagnum to the planting site near Kinder Scout