A row that erupted over the planting of trees and drain of centuries-old peat bog has finally been settled – but the damage done will have to be repaired.

Peatlands are considered extremely valuable because of their importance for wildlife.

The Forestry Commission has admitted making a mistake after giving permission for the land to be planted with trees on peatland near Penrith.

It granted permission to plant trees on the bog which has been there for between 3,000 and 4,000 years, a decision condemned by campaigners.

The peatland provides a very significant store of carbon in the Cumbrian landscape – and these bogs have the potential to draw down large amounts of carbon in future, to help in the fight against climate change, but only if they are healthy and growing.

Peatlands can also help to protect local communities from flooding and help to clean water for human use.

READ MORE: National Trust warns over loss of trees and woodlands as ash dieback surges​

Stephen Trotter, chief executive of Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said: “All remaining areas of peatland, no matter how small, should be protected from destruction and further impacts or any threats which may cause damage or loss of condition.

“We believe that the presence of peatland and other habitat/species conservation issues should be identified in the Forestry Commission’s environmental impact assessment required for any woodland creation proposals.

“Steps must be taken to protect and avoid any damage to peatlands, in accordance with the UK Government’s long-established Forestry policy.”

A Forestry Commission spokesman said: “We recognise the need to preserve and protect important habitats and we took our decision on this site based on the evidence we had at the time we reviewed the proposal.

“Lessons learnt from this case will inform our process of continuous improvement as we aim to balance the strong demand for new woodland creation with the need to preserve and protect important existing habitats.”

This story first appeared in the News and Star.

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