Caption: Degraded bog
Caption: Sphagnum moss with sundew
Caption: On site assessing the job
The restoration of a peat extraction site, is no easy task. Take Bolton Fell Moss in Cumbria, which had been severely degraded after years of peat removal. As gardeners, we like to think of ourselves as nurturing plant-life but the sad fact is that most of the peat extracted from this U.K. bog supplied the Gardening and Horticultural Industry. All is not lost though, as thanks to the efforts of Natural England and the technical expertise of our sister company Barker and Bland ltd, the bog has been fully restored.
Doing this takes a lot of work; firstly, preparing the site using big machinery, secondly raising water levels by damming and blocking channels and thirdly replanting thousands of native bog-land species. When we say thousands, we mean it… Bolton Fell Moss Bog covers over 224 hectares of land and with approximately 1000 plants per square metre, you do the maths!
Many people ask how the sphagnum gets established which is a very good question. Basically, it involves a special mulch or ‘living carpet’ of millions of sphagnum fragments and nurturing species from donor sites being translocated to the bog. This ‘living carpet’ enables the sphagnum to in-bed and do the work of healing and restoring the bare, degraded peat left behind after extraction.
The most exciting thing is that the bog has now been designated a brand-new National Nature Reserve (NNR) by Natural England. This means its future is much more secure and the Bog can get on with being host to a fabulous range of plants and providing a wide range of wild-life and social benefits: The plants used are Sphagnum based and peat forming which means they’ll begin the journey of re-creating the peat we’ve taken away over time. Peat itself is precious stuff, it stores more even carbon than trees! By locking carbon away, the bog helps mitigate the rising temperatures of climate change. Not only that, peat acts like a sponge and will hold up to 35 times its weight in water, truly ‘slowing the flow’ and improving flood resilience.
The habitat Bolton Fell Moss provides will entice rare butterflies, bugs and birds to make it their home and increase in numbers, another reason it’s been made a National Nature Reserve.
As gardeners, many of us have already gone Peat-free. Dalefoot Composts produce prize winning growing mediums that enable green fingered folk to keep nurturing their plants without compromising the natural environment. By continuing to support the peat-free industry, we not only enrich our own gardens but actively support the creation of a new garden; Bolton Fell Moss - the biggest bog garden in England!