Mending a north Northumberland bog

Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers helping with the translocation of sphagnum moss. Picture by Geoff Dobbins
Northumberland Wildlife Trust volunteers helping with the translocation of sphagnum moss. Picture by Geoff Dobbins
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Staff and volunteers at Northumberland Wildlife Trust have been busy restoring a 35-hectare section of blanket bog on its Whitelee Moor nature reserve in north Northumberland.

Funding by Natural England through a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement, the restoration process involved the translocation of small pieces of sphagnum moss from ‘donor’ plots on the reserve, which were then planted into bare peat to stabilise the surrounding area.

This 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, dunling, curlew and snipe.

At the same time, funding from Natural England has enabled the Trust to hire a contractor to install more than 300 peat plug dams at Carter Pike, a procedure which involves moving chunks of peat and vegetation to block drainage ditches.

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

On the lower slopes of the reserve, the heather moorland is home to birds such as red grouse, merlin, buzzard, peregrine falcon, hen harrier, skylark, stonechat and meadow pipit. Insects such as the northern eggar moth are seen in the summer.