Children digging

University of Bradford 15th September 2011 British Science Festival

Bradford's uplands are important for climate change.  Find out why at this free event for the British Science Festival.

What are uplands and why are they our local equivalent of a rainforest? On Thursday 15th September, scientists from the University of Leeds working with practitioners and landowners [including Yorkshire Dales River Trust, Bradford’s Countryside Service, Friends of Ilkley Moor  and Pennine Prospects]  will host a free event called “A Whole New World – On Your Doorstep” at the British Science Festival in Bradford to explain what uplands are and why they are important locally and nationally.

On Saturday there will also be the opportunity to join environmental charity Groundwork and accompany a scientist on a guided walk of an upland site at Ogden Water above Halifax to find out more.

Uplands are areas of high or hilly country. Examples abound locally, including the South Pennines to the west of Bradford, the Peak District to the south and the Yorkshire Dales to the north. While they make up almost 80% of land in Scotland and Wales, uplands contribute 17% of England’s less mountainous ground cover.

Although not heavily populated, upland regions are important for livestock farming, and are now centres for tourism and leisure activities. It was a combination of sheep farming in the uplands combined with the large amounts of soft water running off this higher ground that fuelled the development of the wool industry in West Yorkshire and the growth of towns and cities like Bradford, Keighley, Halifax and Leeds.

While the textile industry may not be so dominant in the region today, the uplands around our cities and towns are no less important. They are valuable areas of biodiversity, home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, and also provide much of the water that we use in the region. In fact, the uplands across the UK provide about 70% of the nation’s drinking water.

As well as providing us with water, peat soils found in the uplands can help reduce the impact of climate change by storing carbon. Water-logged soils found in blanket bogs slow the decay of plant material, trapping carbon and preventing its release to the atmosphere. In fact, peat traps more carbon across the UK than all the trees and vegetation combined – they are our equivalent of the Amazonian rainforests!

The event on Thursday 15th September explores the importance of our local uplands for water provision and their potential to reduce the impacts of climate change. Scientists from the University of Leeds and speakers from other local organisations including Pennine Prospects will talk about their work in the uplands and there will be a hands-on demonstration to find out more about water, climate change and biodiversity in the countryside around Bradford.

The South Pennines Watershed Landscape is the upland habitat where rainwater is divided east from west; North Sea from Irish Sea; Lancashire from Yorkshire. Pennine Prospects has been awarded just under £1.9million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to bring the story of these uplands to life. The project, funded under the HLF’s Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS), will support landscape restoration, access and heritage projects in the area but also work with schools and colleges in the towns and cities that are around the South Pennines.

For more information and to book free tickets for this event which takes place at 1pm-2:30pm on 15th September in the Richmond Building at the University of Bradford , please visit the British Science Festival website at: or telephone 08456 807 207.

A family treasure hunt and wildlife walk to accompany the event will take place on Saturday 17th September at Ogden Water (contact Becky Houlding at Groundwork Leeds on 0113 238 0601 for more information).

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