COP26 - Boots On The Ground




As winter approaches, a film commissioned by the British Mountaineering Council explores 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 climate change. The film is directed by ShAFF Judge Ed Birch of Salt Street Productions, and produced by Anna Paxton, ShAFF co-director. 

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.

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.”

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.

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 meter of sphagnum.

WATCH the film: The Scientist

WATCH the cinematic mini trailer: The Climate Project

DONATE to support The Climate Project with the BMC