How moss carpets will help Calderdale Council's tackle the climate emergency and cut emissions

As Calderdale Council marks the three-year anniversary of its climate emergency declaration, a new project to help cut carbon emissions gets underway.

By Ian Hirst
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 4:00 pm
A countryside volunteer collecting sphagnum moss
A countryside volunteer collecting sphagnum moss

On January 30 2019, the Council declared a climate emergency in a move to step up its action to tackle climate change.

Coun Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, said: “Sadly, Calderdale is all too familiar with the impact of the climate crisis, with frequent extreme weather, four major floods in recent years and the constant threat of further flooding.

“Since we declared a climate emergency in 2019, the whole borough has made huge leaps to help Calderdale be carbon neutral by 2038, with significant progress by 2030. To keep up the good work, there are small steps we can all take every day to cut carbon and make a difference.

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“We’re excited to be launching a new nature-based, community project that will help towards local climate action by restoring moorland and soaking up carbon and rainwater.”

Across the world, drained peatlands are emitting tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Bringing bogs and moorland back to health is a key way to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

The Council is starting a new project to grow sphagnum moss, funded through the National Lottery Climate Action Fund.

The moss carpets the ground on moors and marshes and acts as a sponge. It restores degraded moorland (an important part of Natural Flood Management), soaks up carbon, retains water, prevents the decay of dead plant material and eventually forms peat.

In the same week as the three-year climate emergency milestone, the sphagnum moss project officially kicked off with a group of six countryside volunteers heading to the RSPB Dove Stone Nature Reserve in Greater Manchester, where they collected the first sphagnum moss for Calderdale.

The volunteers battled freezing conditions and a four-hour walk over rough terrain to collect the moss with the wardens at Dove Stone.

The moss is going to Manor Heath Park in Halifax, where volunteers and the community will help trial different ways of growing it in a nursery setting.

When the moss is ready, it will be planted in suitable sites around Calderdale to restore damaged moorland that currently emits carbon.

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