Brabners helps unlock Yorkshire Dales conservation project

Tim Yetman, Catherine Bryan and Jamie McEwan

Independent law firm Brabners has invested £50,000 to help kickstart a new project that will restore more than 400 hectares of internationally important peatland in the Yorkshire Dales as part of its sustainability strategy.

The carbon-neutral firm, which is due to open a new office in Leeds this summer, is working with Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Kingsdale Head Farm as part of a wider four-year programme, the Great North Bog, which in turn is restoring more than 3,500 hectares of peatland and blanket bogs across Northern England.

The project at Kingsdale Head is expected to prevent the loss of at least 450 tonnes of carbon – equivalent to planting more than 22,000 trees – to the atmosphere each year.

Brabners’ initial investment will help to unlock £550,000 in grant funding for restoration work at Kingsdale Head via the Nature for Climate Peatland Capital Grant Scheme.

The work, which will undo the damage inflicted on the landscape, includes the creation of 5,000 dams and sediment traps to reverse artificial drainage across the site. The firm intends to support Kingsdale Head beyond its financial commitment and already has an employer supported volunteering day booked in to plant trees at Kingsdale Head in the autumn.

Yorkshire accounts for more than a quarter of England’s peatland – the majority of which is damaged. Yorkshire Peat Partnership, led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is leading the peatland restoration efforts in North Yorkshire’s uplands.

Kingsdale Head was acquired by owners Catherine Bryan and Tim Yetman in 2020. Working with their conservation and farm manager, Jamie McEwan, and partners including the Woodland Trust, Yorkshire Dales National Park, the University of Manchester and many local experts, they intend to restore and improve the biodiversity and carbon capturing properties of the 608-hectare site near Ingleton.

Led by its internal Sustainability, Environmental & Green Group (SEGG), Brabners achieved carbon neutral status for the first time in 2020. It was the first UK law firm outside of London to join the climate change awareness-raising organisation ‘Business Declares a Climate Emergency’, where the firm was introduced to fellow members, the Kingsdale Head project.

Catherine Bryan, owner of Kingsdale Head Farm, said: “We are at the beginning of a long journey at Kingsdale Head to bring a greater diversity of life back into the landscape, as well as restore precious peatland, enabling it to hold more water and store more carbon.

“The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world but, with the support of Brabners, Yorkshire Peat Partnership and many other partners, we hope to further demonstrate how upland farms can generate sustainable income whilst delivering action to improve the resilience and diversity of our natural world.”

Robert White, CEO of Brabners, said: “With more than ten per cent yof the world’s blanket bog on our doorstep, the UK has a unique role to play in natural carbon capture and the fight against climate change. High quality peatland can act as a super storer but much of its natural benefits have been lost to support the development of land for agriculture and grazing.

“Through SEGG, we continually assess how we as a business can make a positive difference – with the project at Kingsdale Head providing both an immediate and long-term impact. We see this very much as the start of our relationship and look forward to working with Catherine and Tim to showcase sustainable farming as a viable approach to agriculture.

“Investing in a bog may not be glamorous, but it is pioneering and in keeping with our focus on innovation as a leading independent law firm. It will have a huge impact, and we cannot wait to get our wellies on and get across to our Brabners’ bog in October.”

Dr Tim Thom, Peat Programme Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We have ambitious plans to renew, replant and restore all of Yorkshire’s upland peatland by 2035. Kingsdale Head has a significant role to play in achieving that target as we look to deliver the changes in landscape and biodiversity that will support natural regeneration well into the future.

“Having the backing of the private sector is hugely valuable in unlocking new funding, so we’re incredibly grateful to have Brabners’ support, which will help accelerate investment for the benefit of everyone.”

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