Concern as peat dries out in hot spell

Cracked ground on Northumberland Wildlife Trust's reserves.
Cracked ground on Northumberland Wildlife Trust's reserves.

Nature reserves are suffering in the hot weather, with pond levels dropping and peat drying out.

On Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Whitelee Moor reserve in Redesdale, the peat is cracking and the colour is being bleached out of plants.

The peat is causing concern to the Trust’s estates staff. Once it starts to dry out, it reduces its ability to absorb water, so shedding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and increasing the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain. It also burns very easily.

The plants at Whitelee are very bleached, with sphagnum, which is normally bright red, now almost white.

The water level of the pond on the Trust’s Holywell Pond reserve, near Seaton Delaval, is starting to run low.

This will result in the water being more stagnant, which will cause algal blooms that are very dangerous to dogs jumping into the pond and toxic to wildlife such as foxes and deer drinking from it.

It is deadly for plants in the pond as they will be smothered and die, and, in the event of it completely drying up, the wildlife living within it will start to die very quickly.

The wildlife charity is repeating its call for visitors to its reserves to take their cigarette butts and lighters home with them and to be on the lookout for broken bottles which, in the current high temperatures, act as magnifying glasses and can spark a fire in a couple of hours.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is the largest environmental charity in the region working to safeguard native wildlife.

Supported by more than 12,000 individual and 40 corporate members in the region, it manages and protects critical species and habitats at more than 60 nature reserves throughout Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle.