Protecting peatlands requires understanding stakeholder perceptions and relational values: A case study of peatlands in the Yorkshire Dales

Kirsten Lees, Rachel Carmenta, Ian Condliffe, Anne Gray, Lyndon Marquis, Timothy M. Lenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainable peatland management is a global environmental governance challenge given peat’s carbon storage. Peatlands worldwide are sites of contested demands between stakeholders with distinct management priorities. In the United Kingdom, peatland management is a focus of political interest for nature-based solutions (NBS), causing tensions with land managers who feel their traditional knowledge is undervalued. Using Q-method (a semi-quantitative method for clarifying distinct viewpoints) with estate managers, gamekeepers, farmers, and employees of land-owning organisations, we explored perceptions around changing upland management in the Yorkshire Dales. Land managers hold strong values of ownership, aesthetics, and stewardship. The prospect of changing management causes fears of losing these relational values alongside instrumental values. Yorkshire Dales stakeholders agreed on NBS aims (reducing flooding, limiting wildfires, protecting wild birds), but disagreed on methods to achieve these. Our research supports engaging local stakeholders at all stages of peatland protection schemes to minimise resentment towards top-down management.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2023

Cite this