Dorset Peat Partnership
The Dorset Peat Partnership is hosted by Dorset Wildlife Trust and chaired by Dorset Catchment Partnerships. Our partners are Forestry England, RSPB, National Trust, BCP Council, Dorset Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England’s Wessex team.
Peat habitats in Dorset are highly fragmented and many are in poor condition due to historic drainage of land. Healthy peat habitats are home to fantastically diverse and highly specialised wildlife. They also store carbon and rainwater in large amounts, providing climate and flood risk reduction benefits, as well as improved water quality downstream.
During the 2021-2023 Discovery phases over 80 sites were assessed with 16 sites prioritised for restoration. These sites had in-depth surveys of vegetation, peat depth and condition, water levels at different times of year, and the implications were assessed of potential restoration on any historic environment features present. Detailed restoration plans were developed for each site, and approved by national experts.
In August 2023, the project was successful in securing £750,000 from NCPGS to begin the restoration of the 16 priority sites. This funding has been matched by £100,000 from the Wytch Farm Landscape Access and Enhancement Fund, and £150,000 of funding from various other sources allowing the partnership to deliver a large, £1million programme of peatland restoration. This phase of the project is being delivered over two years. Interventions are tailored to each site's unique needs, but broadly all the works will rewet important mire sites by blocking artificial drainage ditches and removing scrub vegetation. This will allow groundwater to return to natural levels, locking in carbon and water in the existing peat and providing the ideal conditions for peat-forming plant communities to thrive.
The project will complete its delivery in March 2025.