With thanks to Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, who manage the reserve jointly, for giving us permission to visit Fenn’s, Whixxal and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve.as part of the series of CLA Natural Capital events.
At nearly 1,000 hectares, the Mosses form Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog SSSI. Formed at the end of the last Ice Age in a shallow hollow flooded by melting ice sheets, the lowland raised bog was a slow-growing dome of Sphagnum bogmoss peat. The bog was drained after the Enclosure Acts of 1777 and 1823, for the canal in 1804 and then again when the railway was built in 1863. Further large scale drainage for commercial peat extraction in the 1920’s completed the collapse of the Mosses’ saturated domes. During the 20th century the Mosses were commandeered for military use during the World Wars, and part was planted with pine forests in the 1960s.
Mechanised commercial cutting of peat began in 1968, but when the rate of cutting quadrupled in 1989, a campaign was launched to rescue the Mosses. The central area was acquired as a National Nature Reserve, and in 1990, large-scale cutting was brought to an end. At this time the leases were bought by
the Nature Conservancy Council and management since then has been shared between Natural England and NRW. who have blocked up drainage ditches and removed scrub, allowing water levels to rise, and the ombrotrophic bog to re-establish itself.
During our visit we will walk to see the peat bog and will discuss:
peat restoration, carbon sequestration, carbon trading, tree planting on peat, inland water, access and rights of way at strategic points along the way.
NB - the walk will be over some uneven ground and will be approximately one and a half miles in total. Please ensure that you bring suitable footwear and clothing for the weather on the day.