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Hallam staff and students plant thousands of moss plugs to help save Peak District moorland

Sheffield Hallam staff and students have teamed up for a Nature Recovery Day, planting sphagnum moss to store carbon, help reduce flooding and provide habitat for wildlife.

Working with the Moors for the Future Partnership, the team of staff and student volunteers from across the university planted over 1,000 moss plugs which are essential for the survival of peatland in the Peak District. 

English peatlands emit over 11 million tonnes of carbon per year because they have become degraded. Planting sphagnum moss plugs can restore these degraded peatlands and help counteract the effects of the climate crisis. 

Sphagnum moss is a key component of wetland habitats that can store vast amounts of carbon, absorb up to 20 times its own weight in water which alleviates flooding and promotes biodiversity by providing a habitat for peatland plants and animals. 

Dr Joe Glentworth, Lecturer in Environmental Management and Environmental Science at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “As part of our new degree in Climate, Sustainability and Environmental Management, we want to encourage our students to engage with local organisations and actively make a difference to their local environment.

“Our Nature Recovery Day activities like this planting event have huge benefits, not just for wildlife but also for people in storing carbon and mitigating against potential future impacts of climate change. They are also great for the wellbeing of our staff and students by providing an opportunity to re-connect with nature and feel positive about our ability to make a difference”.

Chris Pembroke, Senior Conservation Works Officer from Moors for the Future Partnership, said: “It was a privilege to get to work with the students from Sheffield Hallam University on the site at Snailsden. They did a brilliant job and with great enthusiasm. Healthy and diverse moorland vegetation was destroyed by the historic air pollution of the industrial revolution, but now the moors are making a comeback thanks to the restoration works, improved air quality and sphagnum planting like this.

“Sphagnum moss is one of the essential steps in restoring degraded peat bogs to help them store carbon rather than emit. It also helps improve the condition of this SSSI and special habitat and help improve the water quality from the headwaters of the River Don.”

The Nature Recovery Day was funded by Yorkshire Universities Regional Sustainability Service-Learning Pilot, funded by the UPP Foundation. 

The pilot project explores ways in which students can use the knowledge and skills they have acquired within their degree to help deliver positive social change locally. 


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