Vital repairs to bog continuing in second phase

Repairs to Whitelee reserve. Picture by Geoff Dobbins
Repairs to Whitelee reserve. Picture by Geoff Dobbins

Northumberland Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers are starting work on phase two of the restoration of blanket bog at Whitelee Moor.

The project at the north Northumberland nature reserve will prevent carbon loss and allow the land to hold more water which will, in turn, reduce downstream flooding and produce better habitat for wading birds such as golden plover, dunlin, curlew and snipe.

The work, which is funded by Natural England through a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement, started with phase one in April, which involved blocking drainage ditches and moving small pieces of sphagnum moss from donor plots on the reserve to bare peat areas to prevent carbon loss and allow the land to hold more water.

For the second phase, teams are now preparing to mark out locations for the installation of coir dams which will reduce down-stream flooding and produce better habitat for wading birds.

The team were dubious as to whether the sphagnum moss would have survived the dry spell in spring/early summer, but were pleasantly surprised to see that a considerable amount is growing well, which is great news for the project.

The site, which is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) was bought by the Trust in 1999, following a public appeal and assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and was declared a National Nature Reserve in 2001.