A YORK charity is launching a national appeal to "give peat a chance" and save Yorkshire’s peatlands in a bid to help tackle both flooding and climate change.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust says it needs to restore the "brown and broken" Yorkshire peatlands to their former glory to help prevent another disastrous flood like the 2015 Boxing Day disaster in York.

“Healthy peatlands slow the flow of water off the hills, which helps to combat devastating flash floods like those experienced by much of Yorkshire at the end of 2015,” said a spokeswoman. “In contrast, degraded peatlands allow excess water to run straight off and directly into rivers, which can burst their banks and overwhelm towns and villages, homes and businesses.

“The vast majority of Yorkshire’s 70,000 hectares of peatlands are damaged.

“What should be wet, green and wild is instead dry and cracked.

“When healthy, these amazing landscapes are a haven for wildlife, a natural flood barrier and a huge carbon store that helps combat climate change, so restoring them is of paramount importance.”

Matthew Snelling, peatlands restoration officer, said: “Yorkshire is still suffering from the terrible Boxing Day floods four years ago, and there’s a real fear it could happen again.

“Restoring our peatlands reduces the chances of such dramatic flooding.

“Globally, peatlands also lock up huge quantities of carbon – more than twice the amount stored in all of the world’s forests combined. So restoring them goes a long way in supporting the fight against climate change.

“Furthermore, here in Yorkshire, they are home to some of our most iconic wildlife, including birds like curlew and golden plover and plants like cotton grass.”

A spokeswoman said the trust wanted to re-vegetate bare peat, for example by replanting plants such as sphagnum in degraded areas and also to block gullies to stop rainwater running straight off the land and instead keep it within the peat where it belonged.

She said the trust was not providing specific locations for peatland areas which needed restoring for many reasons – one of which was confidentiality, as it worked a lot with private landowners who might not want their land area advertised for the appeal, but said it included land in the North York Moors.

She said the trust had already restored nearly 30,000 hectares - equivalent to more than 42,000 football pitches - but there was a lot more to do.

She urged people to help save the peatlands by donating to the ‘Give Peat a Chance’ Peatlands Appeal at ywt.org.uk/give-peat-a-chance.