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An exciting ecological project that has already restored seven hectares of lost wetland habitat within one of North West England’s largest forests has received a funding boost.
It is hoped rare butterflies, newts and dragonflies will benefit from the two-year Meres and Mosses scheme being run by the Forestry Commission at Delamere Forest.
The aim of the project is to re-wet 34 hectares of peatland basin within the forest.
Made up of more than 100 of these peatland basins, Delamere is a key wetland site in the UK and was internationally renowned for its unusual quaking bog sites – known as ‘schwingmoor’.
However, these watery havens were drained more than 80 years ago for conifer plantations.
The Meres and Mosses project, which is part of Natural England’s £4 million Wetland Vision, which will fund almost 2,000 hectares of wetland recovery projects across the country, has already seen the restoration of five bogs giving a combined area of seven hectares at Delamere – roughly the equivalent of seven football pitches.
Oliver Thompson, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger at Delamere Forest, has been able to secure a £12,500 funding boost for the scheme which will enable him to complete the re-wetting.
“So far I have been able to re-wet five basins. We harvested the trees in the usual manner then I cleared the scrubland from the basins before blocking the exit drainage ditches. This should prevent water from leaving the basins, allowing the peat to become saturated.
“It is great news that we have been able to secure the additional funding as this will enable us to re-wet a further 14 basins scattered around Delamere. Although there are more than 80 basins in the forest we have not got the resources to re-wet them all and so we are choosing the basins with the most ecological value.”
The rewetting process is returning the land to a more natural state and this should allow mosses, rare plants, invertebrates and amphibians – such as diving beetles, dragonflies and newts – to thrive again.
When the project is completed, interpretation boards will be put up to educate visitors about what is happening and the ecological aims of the project.
Graeme Prest, Forestry Commission area manager for North West England, said:
“This is a really exciting project that will help restore these basins to their natural state and therefore produce a wonderful habitat for wildlife.
“The Forestry Commission’s forests in the North West are home to an abundance of wildlife, including red squirrels, ospreys, rare butterflies and now even red kites.
“Although some trees were felled in Delamere to make way for this habitat restoration project, the Forestry Commission in North West England plants half a million trees each year in the region – so we plant two trees for every tree we fell.”
Natural England Wetland vision monies will be matched by funding from the Forestry Commission, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Cheshire BAP Partnership to restore a total of 34 ha of basin fen in four key sites by raising water levels.
For more information about the Forestry Commission in the North West please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland
For further information about Natural England, visit the website at www.naturalengland.org.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licenses, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development.
2. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. Its North-West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.
3. Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.
4. Wetlands are some of the most important landscapes on earth and they are under threat. These landscapes provide vital wildlife habitats and public services. By increasing the natural capacity of the countryside to absorb and hold excess water, the risk of flooding could be decreased. The restoration and enhancement of peat bogs could prevent thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere every year. The Wetland Vision project unites five of the UK's leading environmental organisations in a bid to restore and re-create a network of wetlands for the benefit of people and wildlife alike. Many of the projects will also benefit the historic environment, as protecting wetlands conserves buried archaeology and fragile and irreplaceable historical archives.
Oliver Thompson (Wildlife Ranger) at Delamere on 07810 813 196 or 01606 324911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Natural England National Press Office on 0845 603 9953; email@example.com, for out of hours call 07970 098005.