On the uplands of Exmoor drainage ditches have been dug across the moorland for a variety of reasons and over many decades.
Generations of peat-cutting and the creation of drainage ditches has caused the mires to dry out, which reduces the water-holding capacity of the moors.
In addition, this drying action causes oxidation of exposed peat bogs which releases large quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. A 'healthy' bog accumulates carbon and absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere.
The focus of the Exmoor Mires Project is to block drainage ditches using sustainable methods, local materials and local contractors in order to 're-wet' the bog, enabling it to retain water and carbon.
During periods of heavy rainfall, re-wetted peat bogs slow down the run-off of water from land before steadily releasing it. This increased water storage has the effect of reducing the fluctuation of river flows, making flooding less likely, reducing soil erosion and the amount of silt entering rivers.
Water carrying less silt is up to 20 per cent less expensive to treat, requiring fewer chemicals and carbon to turn it into our top quality tap water.
Ditch-blocking and water management techniques on Exmoor began in 1998.
With financial support from South West Water's Upstream Thinking project, the restoration work continues in 2013.
Worldwide peatlands are huge carbon stores, but damaged areas release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through oxidation processes.
On Exmoor a blanket of peat which is over a metre deep in places covers the central moorland.
Threats to Exmoor's blanket bog
Exmoors mires are an important repository of archaeological information for a number of reasons.
The project has also been asked by Ofwat to undertake research and monitoring on the hydrological and ecological effects of rewetting peatland.
You are welcome to download here the research and documentation developed since mire restoration began on Exmoor.
The Exmoor Mires-on-the-Moors Project has an office in Dulverton above the National Park Centre in the heart of the town