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Building a Peat Bog

On Sunday 27th November, four intrepid conservation volunteers set out to the heights of Holme Moss Moor on the edge of the Peak District. Our objective - to locate, collect and transplant Sphagnum Bog Moss.

Sphagnum Bog Moss is an amazing plant that is absolutely vital for the formation of peat bogs. One of the only species that can really thrive in the acidic, low-oxygen conditions, decomposition of the sphagnum stems is very, very slow. Because of this, layers of the moss build up over time, raising the moorland water table to form a bog. Peat is essentially these layers of partially-decayed sphagnum. Peat bogs are huge stores of carbon. They are important habitats for many animal and plant species.

However, pollution from Sheffield steel mills and factories, the cutting of peat for fuel, and more recent burning of moorland for Grouse farming, has resulted in the severe dieback of Sphagnum across the Peak District. Subsequent degradation of exposed peat has been extensive. For example, at Holme Moss the ground used to be level with the base of the white Trig station in the photo below - that’s how much peat has been lost!

The solution is relatively simple - return the sphagnum, and you restore the bog. So, armed with wellies, two pairs of gloves, and sacks, we set out to do just that with RSPB Dovestone. It was a lovely (if cold!) day, and the views were amazing. In total, we collected 26 sacks, with 10 handfuls of Sphagnum per sack. It’s awesome to think that when we return each handful of Sphagnum could have more than tripled in size. Sphagnum really is a fantastic little plant, and this was a fantastic new task - we’ll be back!


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