Save Lindow Moss
As part of the Climate Coalition Week of Action in July Pauline Handley and Jean Hill, both members of Fulshaw WI in Wilmslow, went for a walk around a local Moss. They discovered a fragile and beautiful environment, unique and rare, that is under grave threat.
Their photographs show the great variety of habitats on Lindow Moss, Wilmslow. The Moss is a fascinating example of a very ancient lowland bog and is the best example of a peatland landscape in Cheshire. Extensive damage has been done to this very valuable peat bog by decades of peat extraction but there are also areas of outstanding natural beauty where small areas of bog survive. The Moss is easily accessible at the western edge of Wilmslow and only a couple of miles from Manchester airport to the north. These images illustrate the different Moss habitats which have survived in spite of the large scale damage due to peat cutting. It is an area used by many people for recreation; to walk and enjoy nature. It should be more highly valued and various groups (particularly Transition Wilmslow and Cheshire Wildlife Trust) are endeavouring to ensure that a restoration plan is developed.
1. Piles of extracted peat waiting to be removed: Lindow Moss was once the most extensive lowland peat bog in Cheshire covering 600 hectares (1500 acres). At its heart the bog is still cut for peat on an industrial scale. Two thousand years ago people revered this place and marked it with the ritual sacrifice of Lindow Man whose preserved body was discovered in 1985. The site where the bog body was found, although internationally renowned, is not marked in any way.
2. Part of the Moss stripped of surface vegetation and some of the peat: Fossilized pine tree roots (see 5 below) have been excavated from the peat and left in rough piles. There is still more depth of peat to be excavated here.
3. Drainage channel: Today deep drainage channels criss-cross the bog and extract the water from the peat, causing it to shrink and oxidise so releasing carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere.
4. Small bog pool: Lindow Moss started as a post glacial lake which became choked with vegetation. Patches of bog pondweed, soft rush and reed mace can still be found on the moss, supporting a small population of water voles.
5. Fossilized pine roots: From around 6,000 years ago pine trees were able to colonise the surface of the mire and the pine woodland persisted for 2,000 years until wetter conditions prevented pine regeneration. The pine trunks and roots were preserved beneath a blanket of Sphagnum moss. Today the magnificent ancient pine stumps are trashed and discarded by the peat operator.
6. Variety of plants near a small bog pool: In areas where peat cutting has been relaxed, mire vegetation including the characteristic cotton grass is able to re-establish and the bog begins again to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
7.Largest bog pool: Even in its present state, there are two larger pools on Lindow Moss which attract dragon flies and other wildlife.
8. Sphagnum Moss: Lindow Moss was ‘built’ of sphagnum moss over thousands of years and it can still be found in the wet areas. If the drainage channels were blocked and the peat surface was re-wetted then sphagnum would re-establish, so accelerating carbon capture from the atmosphere.
9. Sundew: in July the delightful, insect catching plant sundew is found flowering on the bare peat. The insect trapping ‘dew-drops’ persist even in hot weather and herbalists believed the plant to have special powers as an elixir of youth!
It is now really urgent that peat cutting should stop and that the natural lowland bog landscape should be restored. This can be done by blocking up the deep water channels to build up the water table; so helping to prevent more carbon dioxide being released and to begin carbon dioxide capture over the whole Mossland. Lindow Moss should be restored to an attractive, natural peatbog landscape and home for wildlife, rather than being allowed to further decline into an even drier, more unattractive, decimated landscape!
If you want to help save Lindow Moss, bring the dire state of this Cheshire habitat to the attention of the decision makers. Send a polite email letting them know that Lindow Moss is a fragile, unique environment that is also a valuable carbon capture sink, and we need to save it and look after it. Better still encourage all the members of your WI to send emails.
The local MP for Lindow is Esther McVey, you can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chair of the Strategic Planning Board is Councillor Gill Merry and you can email her on email@example.com
The Chief Planning Officer is Adrian Fisher and you can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org