|Restoration of peat bogs on Exmoor has resulted in a third less water leaving the moorland during heavy rainfall compared with three years ago.|
By blocking up drainage ditches, the moorland can now hold more water and release it more slowly, reducing potential flooding elsewhere.
In order to evaluate whether the restoration program has been successful so far, Professor Richard Brazier and his team of researchers at the University of Exeter were tasked with monitoring the hydrology, water quality and carbon storage within two experimental sites located on Exmoor.
Extrapolated across the whole 2000 hectares of restored moorland - which was the 2015 target for the Exmoor Mires Project - the results indicated that the amount of storm water running off the moorland has reduced by a third, the equivalent of more than 6,630 Olympic-size swimming pools less water entering downstream rivers.
It also indicates increased water storage in the peat of 260,000 cubic metres. Put another way, that's 104 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water removed from the river system flowing down to major population centres like Exeter.
Prof Brazier said: "Across the experimental site we are seeing a rise in water table levels of up to 2.65cm that can be attributed to the ditch blocking and moorland restoration.
"This enhanced water storage could, when replicated across the whole of Exmoor, provide a significant buffer against downstream flooding in rivers like the Exe."