Restoring Lindow Moss

Many of us walk on Lindow Moss all year round and experience its beauty even in its damaged and neglected condition. In winter there is too much water and in summer it dries up, as the water flows away through the ditches. It desperately needs restoration to a functioning peatland ecosystem so that it can act as a carbon sink instead of being a continual source of CO2 as it is now.

The 28 hectare bog is privately owned and peat cutting stopped over six years ago.

Restoration depends on the owners, developers and the local council to make the restoration happen. As soon as the housing development on the edge of the bog is granted final permission by CEC, the bog restoration has to start ahead of the housing development.

What will the restored Lindow Moss look like? Little Woolden Moss (pictured above) to the west of Manchester is a restored bog. Only five years ago it was like our Lindow Moss, a degraded dried out cut over peat bog. But is has been restored by Lancashire Wildlife Trust to look like this photo taken on a spring day this year. The hare’s tail cotton grass stretching into the distance was bright white. There was sphagnum moss in the pools and the sound of bird life was all around. We could hear curlews and lapwings calling. Little Woolden Moss has been restored by forming compartments to hold back the water and dams to control the water levels. The water is retained by a system of long, narrow bunds (low peat walls) constructed at angles across the bog as in the picture below:

How will Lindow Moss be restored? Peat bunds will be built across the bog and we have to be prepared for upheaval and noise when restoration begins. Peat moving equipment will be back to start the process. Many of the deep drainage ditches will be blocked and the water levels in each compartment of the Moss will be controlled. Long bunds will be set at different heights to trap the rain water. Excess water will then be able to flow slowly downhill, over the top of the bunds, to avoid flooding and into a controlled drainage system.

Lindow Moss – towards a brighter future: As a result of restoration, which may last two years before completion, recolonization of the rewetted surface with native bog plants will occur. These are mainly Sphagnum mosses & cotton grass on the re-wetted peat. The carnivorous sundew Drosera rotundifolia is already growing well in places on the heathland areas. All around the moss there are still small areas of eco-niches which support a whole range of bog plants, insects & small mammals. Also, the drier areas are covered with dense heather where common lizards live. It is very encouraging that a small colony of water voles live in a pool in the centre of the bog and these will be carefully protected. They have survived in spite of the continuous upheaval on the bog by machinery over the years.

We have to be hopeful that restoration will start this year (2021). After so many years of destruction, we may be, at last, on the cusp of its restoration to a functioning wetland. This is essential both for the wildlife to regenerate and for the bog to become a carbon sink once more.

Pauline Handley

41 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All