Local environmental charity The Greensand Trust and its collaborative initiative the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership, working with The Wildlife Trust Beds, Cambs & Northants has launched a new project “Putting Peat on the Map” - focussing on improving our understanding of peat along the River Flit in Bedfordshire. 

It will be one of 13 projects sponsored by the Environment Agency’s Lowland Agriculture Peat Water Discovery Pilot looking at England’s lowland peat regions which include the Cambridgeshire Fens, Humberhead and Somerset levels.

Historically there were significant wetland areas in Bedfordshire’s Flit Valley with large deposits of peat, but only small fragments remain of what were once much larger wetland landscapes – to such an extent that not many people even know we have peat soils in the county. The project will set out to discover where the peat has survived focussing on nature reserves and valley mire habitats along the river. Key sites include Flitwick Moor SSSI, where the peat is critical to the specific habitats and interest. 


Jon Balaam, Director of Development at The Greensand Trust and project lead, states:

It’s imperative that action is taken to protect and restore remaining peat in this part of the country, where there is so little of it left. By looking at how we can work together to better understand, manage and enhance our peat soils, we can deliver carbon emission reductions, improve food security, boost wetland biodiversity and nature’s recovery, and contribute towards better protection for communities from flooding and drought.


Matt Jackson, Conservation Director at The Wildlife Trust Beds, Cambs & Northants added: 

Peat in inland, lowland England is a vital resource. It stores significant amounts of carbon if it remains wet, but also provides habitats that support rare and vulnerable wildlife. The Wildlife Trust is delighted to be working on this project in the Greensand Country region which will help improve our understanding of the state of the peat resource in the area.


The project will look at historical evidence, conduct field surveys on the condition of peat in the Flit Valley and assess hydrology and water level management to identify areas for potential future peat conservation and management. The knowledge and thoughts of local farmers and landowners will be sought, and two guided walks of peatland areas will be offered as part of the annual Greensand Country Festival in May. Students at Cranfield University will be creating a National Capital Account to value the ecosystems from restored peat habitats.


This work is part of the Lowland Agricultural Peat Water Discovery Pilot funded by the Environment Agency and Defra and delivered by the Environment Agency as part of a wider initiative to progress the government’s targets on nature and climate as part of its Environmental Improvement Plan.