The Scientist on the front line in the fight against climate change

Posted by Anna Paxton on 26/10/2021
Tom Spencer traverses the plateau every two weeks through snow, ice and storms to carry out vital research. Photo: Salt Street Producations

As winter approaches, our new film 'The Scientist' is the first of our three-part series exploring the work carried out by intrepid scientists in some of the UK’s most inaccessible and hostile hills, placing them on the front line in the fight against the climate crisis.

The Kinder Plateau in the Peak District is popular with hikers and hillwalkers, but in the depths of winter all but the most hardcore would prefer to stay indoors warming their feet by the fire than venture out into this beautiful but hard-to-navigate landscape. In contrast, scientist Tom Spencer of the Moors For The Future Partnership traverses the plateau every two weeks through snow, ice and storms to carry out vital research.

WATCH: The Scientist on BMC TV

Peat moorlands cover 15% of the UK, and peat bogs are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store in the world. During the industrial revolution acid rain reduced vast areas of upland to deserts of bare peat. With no plant roots to hold it in place, peat is washed off the hills, contributing to flooding in the valleys and releasing centuries of carbon locked into the ground. As Tom describes it, “This is the brutal effect of human civilisation on the landscape.”

READ: Why are our moors so damaged?

All is not lost though. Through their programme of moorland restoration, MFTF are replacing sphagnum moss, the ‘bog building’ plant that forms the bedrock of a healthy blanket bog. And evidence shows that this intervention is effective. Sphagnum will not grow back naturally but when planted it thrives, taking as much carbon out of the atmosphere as a tropical rainforest, actively fighting climate change. The ‘miracle plant’ stores water, keeping the peat wet, reducing wildfire and flood severity. It’s also a natural filter, improving the quality of drinking water in our reservoirs. To date Moors For The Future have restored more than 8,000 acres of moor.

READ: Why are bogs so important for a healthy planet?

“This is science with boots and heavy winter clothing on. There are distances to travel through harsh terrain in harsh weather, to carry out measurement and monitoring to tell us what we need for the future", said Chris Dean, MFTF Partnership Manager.

Dr Cath Flitcroft, BMC Access & Conservation Officer said, “We’re very excited to support the work of Moors for the Future. The Climate Project gives hillwalkers and climbers the opportunity to make a real difference to the local landscapes that we love and to the global climate crisis.”

DONATESupport The Climate Project with the BMC

Whether you walk, climb, or run, you can see the impact we’ve had. We’ve shaped the moors over thousands of years. They’ve been eroded, burnt, and degraded, but we’re not powerless, we can fight back. There is a way to repair and restore those landscapes we love. The future really is in our hands. It’s time to do more, to plant moor.

Hill walkers, climbers, and mountaineers can contribute to this work from the comfort of their own homes by donating to The Climate Project, the BMC’s initiative that funds sphagnum moss planting. It costs £25 to plant one square metre of sphagnum.

WATCH: the cinematic mini trailer for The Climate Project on BMC TV


WATCH: The Climate Project - help fight climate change on our moorlands on BMC TV

💮 Donate to The Climate Project 🌱

The BMC's Climate Project supports the work of Moors for the Future.

Your support will help:   

🌱 Actively fight the climate crisis

🛡️ Protect endangered wildlife

❌ 🔥 Reduce wildfire risk

❌ 🌊 Reduce flooding risk

It costs £25 to plant one square metre of sphagnum moss and create a healthy moor. hanks to you, we’ve raised £30,000 for The Climate Project so far. This will restore 1,200 square meters of sphagnum on our Peak District moors.


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