Enhancing natural capital - Cheshire East nature based insettling

Recognising nature as the foundation of carbon reduction, and restoring our local peatlands to prevent further carbon loss.

Digging holes for tree planting
Tree whips
A group planting trees

Our story

A key aspect of Cheshire East’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2025 is enhancing and protecting the borough's natural capital. Delivering nature-based initiatives such as tree planting, peatland restoration or habitat regeneration allows us to offset carbon which cannot be eliminated by other means. Crucially, we have engaged partner organisations and relevant landowners regarding maximising potential for tree planting, soil management and conservation of peatlands. The enhancement of natural capital is also an opportunity to connect with wider community groups, engaging with local people and establish positive relationships which will encourage sustained support for community projects.

The adoption of the new Environmental Strategy in 2019 laid the foundation for the emergence of the Carbon Action Plan 2020. The plan sets targets for maximising the potential for carbon sequestration through developing natural capital within the borough. Part of the plan states the council's aim to sequester carbon on at least 100 Ha of council owned land by 2025, coupled with aims to develop natural climate solutions for carbon sequestration on between 41 and 1,347 Ha of non-council owned land by 2025. The management, investment and restoration of the natural environment will strengthen the borough’s resilience against climate change impacts long term.

There are several examples of our project work, please see below our key objectives for the coming planting season.

Tree Planting
• Following collaborations with Mersey Forest, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and ANSA Environmental approximately 21,000 trees have been planted across the borough including standards, whips, and hedgerows.
• Native, broadleaved species have been used within public parks, school grounds, community spaces and grass verges to successfully increase capacity for carbon sequestration.
• Trees are also directly and indirectly responsible for improving soil structure, reducing pollutants, supporting wildlife, and promoting improved human health and wellbeing.

Whilst delivering tree planting initiatives, peatland restoration has also been identified as crucial action in order to preserve peatlands ability to sequester and store carbon securely. Pastures Wood is the most recent example of our work restoring Cheshire Easts peat lands.

• Cheshire East Council have teamed up with Cheshire Wildlife Trust to deliver restoration works on 1Ha of moss land which has been under significant pressure from peat removal and encroachment of birch scrub.
• The project will raise the water levels and remove birch shrub to prevent the peat drying out and oxidising releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.
• The project will introduce a recolonisation of sphagnum mosses which will capture CO2 by forming a new peat layer.
• This will be advantageous preventing further oxidation of around 10,000 cubic metres of ‘fossil’ peat and future carbon sequestration.

Our advice

Natural capital is part of the council's plan aims to sequester carbon on at least 100 hectares (Ha) of council-owned land by 2025, coupled with aims to develop natural climate solutions for carbon sequestration on between 41 and 1,347 Ha of non-council owned land by 2025.

We learnt the importance of collaboration with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Mersey Forest, ANSA environmental and a range of community groups to build momentum and make projects happen. Due to the amount of work on, we established that delegation of roles was important.

We also developed a strong understanding of the regulatory process which is key to getting the trees in the ground.

Our metrics

Ha of council owned land used to sequester carbon.
Ha of non-council owned land to sequester carbon using natural climate solutions.
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