A NEW technique is being used to restore precious peatland in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

More than 150 bags of sponge-like bog mosses have been spread alongside water channels, directly on to bare peat.

The Sphagnum moss, pictured, will soak up excess water, retain water during the drier months, and grow and expand to cover areas of damaged peat.

The project, which began last year, will see more than 18 hectares of peat – about the size of nine football pitches – become re-vegetated and grow into a piece of fully-functioning blanket bog.

The North Pennines has the largest expanse of peatland in England, and over 3000 ha of it needs restoring.

The moss was collected in Northumberland and taken to its new site at Warcop Training Area, Cumbria.

Alistair Lockett, conservation assistant at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, collected and re-distributed the Sphagnum.

He said: “Healthy peatlands are massively important to the environment.

I don’t think that many people understand the role it plays.

“We always say the North Pennines peatland is our rainforest – maybe not as lush but just as significant.

“Healthy peatlands lock up carbon, reduces water colour, reduces flooding and even conserves archaeology.”