Climate Change Action in Cheshire
 Abbotts Moss by Andrew Walmsley

Meres and Mosses Walk 1st July 2017

Cheshire Federation members walked around some of the Mosses and Meres of Cheshire to find out more about this fragile and rare environment as part of the Climate Coalition Week of Action.

What is a Moss or a Mere?

Much of the Meres and Mosses landscape today is made up of a thick blanket of glacial drift that was deposited during the last glacial period over the top of the Permo-Triassic sandstones. The retreating ice left a hummocky undulating landscape and gouged out basins known as ‘kettle holes’. The hollows and deep depressions subsequently filled with meltwater and rainwater and thus created many of the meres and mosses wetlands present today.

Looking around the Mosses

Our Runcorn WI gathering at Abbots Moss went well, there were 16 of us who turned up and Katie, our lovely expert from Cheshire Wildlife Trust gave us a fascinating talk. Walking on the Moss was a really interesting experience, Abbots Moss is a “quaking” moss which means it is a large raft of woven sphagnum moss floating on a five metre deep kettle hole full of water, peat and more water. The children were delighted to discover if they jumped up and down, the ground bounced under everyone’s feet! Being the largest person there I was a bit unnerved to find myself slowly sinking into the Moss as crystal clear water welled up over the spagnum and my new wellies. Standing still for long was not an option.

Whitley WI also explored Abbots Moss on a different day, and they found it both interesting and beautiful. They too enjoyed the squishy nature of the Moss. Both groups were very impressed with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust and their excellent work looking after Abbots Moss.

Two intrepid ladies from Fulshaw WI called Pauline Handley and Jean Hill undertook a real photographic study of their local Moss which is called Lindow Moss. They looked at every aspect of the place and they produced an excellent case study.

A small group went for a walk around Wynbubury Moss and were enchanted by the wide variety of wildflowers there. They also saw a lot of dragon flies enjoying the sun.

A family group went to Burton Mere Wetlands and reported back that although the wetlands themselves are not drying up , birds from The Mediterranean area are travelling North to nest here and there are 81 egrets nests. There was also a spoonbill overhead which is a bird which normally stays around the Med and in Africa.

Mosses are carbon sinks

We thought we were doing these walks to highlight a fragile environment within our county that is threatened by climate change, and of course that is the case. However much more importantly, the Mosses actually act as a giant carbon sink, holding thousands of tons of carbon in the peat below the surface. Digging up the peat and putting it on our gardens, or draining the land for fir trees, would release all that carbon into our already overheated atmosphere. In Germany they have calculated that if their Mosses get destroyed it would release more carbon that the amount emitted by all their cars and lorries for a full year.