THE Yorkshire Peat Partnership has restored 17,000 hectares of peatland in North Yorkshire - the equivalent of about 10,000 football pitches - and is well on track to hitting its target of 35,000 hectares by 2017.

Set to celebrate its fifth anniversary, the partnership, aims to restore and conserve Yorkshire's valuable upland peat resource.

Programme Manager Tim Thom said: ''Peat is important for the wildlife it supports, the water it holds and the carbon it stores.

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"Not only that, but it creates healthy upland areas that everyone can enjoy and that is why this project is so vital.

"At current estimates 17,000 hectares of peatland has been restored which puts us well on the way to achieving our project target of restoring 50 per cent or 35,000 hectares of the damaged peat in Yorkshire by 2017.

"I am immensely proud of this project and of people who made it all possible and would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.''

The Yorkshire Peat Partnership is led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities and the Environment Agency with support from Yorkshire Water, National Trust, Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, Pennine Prospects, Moors for the Future and Nidderdale AONB.