We are thrilled to be able to continue our Water Works project into a third year and what a year it’s already been for us and peatland restoration in general. We are delighted to announce that the Wildlife Trust BCN has been awarded over £8m in a Heritage Horizon Award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a new project called Peatland Progress to expand paludiculture in the Great Fen and build greater connection with young people locally. And in May, the Government announced that sales of peat compost to amateur gardeners will finally be banned from 2024, and promised £50m to support the restoration of 35,000 hectares of peatland. As a result, my colleagues and I have been regularly speaking with local and national media to spread the word about the potential paludiculture holds for carbon storage and for farmers wanting to preserve the remaining peat soils.
- Press Association environment correspondent Emily Beament’s article on peatland preservation www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/farmers-cambridgeshire-defra-bedfordshire-no…
- ITV Anglia's coverage with myself and Lorna Parker interviewed for an excellent report highlighting the key challenges around soil and peat loss, water management, carbon sequestration and farming business viability in a changing climate - which wet farming supplies answers for www.itv.com/news/anglia/2021-06-11/wet-farming-the-cambridgeshire-farmi…
- BBC News coverage of the Heritage Horizons Award https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-57822250
Aside from the media, the hard work continues to progress and monitor the trial plots. The Water Works team is so pleased to get back on site and move into the next exciting stage of our project.
It has been an exceptionally wet winter followed by a dry April, and then a very wet May. Consequently, the paludi beds were wetter than desired but on the plus side the water storage pool filled up nicely ready for the dryer months ahead.
Although the site construction was largely completed last year, an outstanding element of work was adjustment of pipes between the paludi beds, which will regulate the flow of water from bed to bed. This has now been achieved, giving us full control over the water table, and the ability to achieve the “sweet spot” of the water table within 10cms of the ground surface; this profile ensures we can prevent carbon loss without methane release.