Pestfurlong Moss Restoration Project
In 2018 a project began to restore approximately 4ha of lowland raised bog and wet woodland on Pestfurlong Moss which is part of Gorse Covert Mounds near Warrington. Pestfurlong Moss is a remnant of the lowland raised peat bogs (or mossland) that covered large parts of South Lancashire and North Cheshire. Over time Pestfurlong Moss has gradually dried out because of drainage ditches that had been dug in the past and the open ground had become colonised by birch and willow scrub.
About 80% of UK mosslands have been degraded or lost due to drainage for agriculture, extraction or development making it vitally important to protect and restore our remaining mossland habitats. They have been referred to as the UK’s equivalent to tropical rainforests, storing carbon, helping to reduce the risk of flooding by soaking up water during high periods of rainfall and are beautiful landscapes and valuable wildlife habitats in their own right.
The project was a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Carbon Landscape project (a HLF funded project which covers the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area), Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Natural England. £33,000 of funding was secured from Enovert Landfill and the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out work to re-wet the mossland, improve access and provide information for visitors to explain why the mossland is so important
Since the project began capital works to rewet the mossland have been successfully completed and volunteers (from the Woodland Trust’s Friends of Gorse Covert Mounds group and Carbon Landscape volunteers) have been involved in delivering key aspects of the project. So far 37 volunteers have helped out on practical management task days to remove scrub and attended training courses on breeding birds, butterflies and dragonfly identification. Volunteers will carry out annual surveys of wildlife on the moss to observe any changes due to the restoration work.
The capital works included the construction of 30 plastic pile/peat dam structures and the installation of 140m of plygene/peat bund to retain water on the site. The work has been successful and the mossland is already showing increased water levels following recent winter rainfall. Access improvements as part of the project have included construction of a new section of surfaced footpath and steps down onto the mossland and installing new ditch crossings to encourage visitors to avoid sensitive areas of the mossland, while maintaining access through the existing network of informal paths.
Site Manager Cheshire and Merseyside