Volunteers Plant Million Moss Cuttings to Restore English Bog

Located atop a hill in Oldham, Manchester county, a reservoir was surrounded by barren peat bogs. Rainwater would swiftly collect and carry silt, resulting in degraded river conditions.

Moreover, the absence of ground cover heightened flood risks for nearby communities as water freely flowed into the reservoir and down hillsides onto roads.

To address these issues, volunteers from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, alongside landowner United Utilities, tirelessly worked for ten years in various weather conditions, primarily rain and wind, planting sphagnum moss. This area had suffered from vegetation loss since ancient times.

On a rainy and windy Wednesday, the volunteers celebrated reaching a milestone by planting their one-millionth cutting.

“We aim to restore a landscape that sequesters carbon, mitigates flood risks, supports biodiversity, and promotes health and well-being benefits,” remarked site manager Kate Hanley to the Oldham Times. Hanley noted that the volunteers collectively contributed over 45,000 hours, equivalent to 20,000 labor hours.

“We’ve made significant progress from the bare, degraded peatland a decade ago to a functional blanket bog abundant with sphagnum,” Hanley added.

Additionally, peat and rock dams were installed to trap water and provide habitats for birds, amphibians, and insects. “We wanted to restore the area to its former state, benefiting wildlife, birds, and mountain hares,” explained 71-year-old volunteer Denzil Broadhurst to the Times. “It was important to contribute to improving the environment.”

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