Mearley Brook begins its journey on Pendle Hill, before flowing into the River Ribble near Clitheroe. Although this is only a short stretch of water it encounters many problems and the brook is classed as being in poor condition.
One of the main problems with Mearley Brook is that overgrazing of livestock and public recreation on Pendle Hill has caused severe peat erosion. This is then resulting in high levels of peat sediment entering the brook, negatively affecting water quality.
As part of the Ribble Life for Water project we will be restoring some of the eroding peat gullies at the top of Pendle Hill. This will not only help the peat to build back up and regenerate, but it will also prevent erosion, stopping the peat sediment entering Mearley Brook.
The causes of the erosion will also be addressed. There has already been extensive improvements made to the access and footpaths on Pendle Hill; by directing people towards the designated footpaths we aim to reduce the number of walkers on the peat and so reduce the amount of erosion. The project will also offer advice, guidance, and soil testing to farms, which aims to further improve the water quality, help the brook it reach it’s full potential, and support a greater range of wildlife.
This work is important because peat is an excellent carbon store. Despite peat covering just 12% of the UK our peatlands alone hold 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France, and Germany!
Peat is also beneficial for water management. It holds 20 times it’s own weight in water so is excellent for slowing the flow of rain water and helping to reduce flood risk. Additionally peat is excellent at filtering water, with 70% of our drinking water coming from peatland river catchments. If that isn’t enough peatland also provides habitats for a diverse range of birds, insects and unusual plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world!
It’s important to protect our peatlands. Not only are they vital for our landscapes and it’s inhabitants they are almost irreplaceable, taking centuries to form. They’re created when dead vegetation is trapped in a partly decayed state in waterlogged land, it accumulates and compresses, capturing the carbon from the trapped vegetation over hundred of years. If undisturbed and healthy peat will continue to slowly grow, capturing carbon as it does so.
The project is being completed in partnership with the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, with the work being completed by JVT Construction.