Update on Mallowdale restoration work - January 2017
Peat Restoration – Mallowdale 2015
In October this year, Tarja, Elliott and Sarah met up with colleagues from Natural England, the Environment Agency and Abbeystead Estate to take a trip up to see the peat restoration works recently undertaken through the HLS scheme on Brown Syke, an area of Mallowdale on the Abbeystead Estate. Whilst the peat hags had been reprofiled, geo-jute applied, and heather brash, seed, lime and fertiliser added, some serious droughting during the summer of 2015 had put pay to the re-establishing vegetation cover. This means that the area is still very vulnerable to erosion removing peat, and hence carbon, from the site.
However, we are hopeful that, thanks to funding from the Environment Agency and the Estate, this can be addressed in the new year. We are currently letting a contract to re-apply the heather brash and seed mixture and to translocate aquatic sphagnum onto the site. The details of the tender process can be found here.
Peat restoration – Bleasdale Fells 2014
In November this year, Tarja, Cathy and Sarah spent the day up on the Bleasdale Fells moorland restoration site. The weather was rather murky, but hopefully the photos here do show continued signs of recovery. Here we can see some of the common cotton grass planted out by volunteers in 2013, the expanding areas of Sphagnum moss translocated into the new pools also by the volunteers, and new vegetation growing on the re-profiled hags.
The hags are re-profiled to have a less angular edge which helps to reduce erosion of the peat by the wind and the rain. They are then limed and seeded to encourage vegetation growth which helps to stabilise the peat.
Priority Peat 2014 – An update from further afield
Following the completion of the Forest of Bowland Priority Peat work in 2013, the project has been extended to moorland areas of Lancashire outside of the AONB. With funding from the Environment Agency and support from the AONB, work has now been completed to detail the restoration work still to be done on the West Pennine Moors and further east in Rossendale. A copy of the report can be found here. The report will be used to help prioritise work on the ground as funding opportunities arise, and this work is part of how the AONB is supporting the Lancashire Peat Partnership.
Priority Peat 2013 – Getting a handle on the peat restoration work still to be completed in Bowland
Throughout 2013, work has been ongoing to assess the current condition of the major moorland areas within the Forest of Bowland AONB area. This work has now concluded and the final report can be found here. Working with farmers, land owners, colleagues from the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, United Utilities and Natural England, the work has looked at each of the fells in and around the Bowland Fells Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Site visits, aerial photographs and on-the-ground knowledge have been used to deduce what, if any, moorland restoration is needed on each fell, in order to ensure the ongoing nature conservation, carbon storage, water purification, recreation, upland farming and shooting value of the fells.
The work will help to target available funding to specific projects within the area, thus continuing the work outlined below, wherever those works are necessary. For further information contact email@example.com
Peat Restoration - Bleasdale Fells 2012-13
Over the winter of 2012-2013, further work was carried out on the Bleasdale Fells, building on the successes of the previous project outlined below. This time the work was mainly funded by the Environment Agency, with help and support from the AONB Partnership, the Bleasdale Estate and Lancashire County Council.
Further reprofiling and erosion control work has been carried out within the fenced out area on Fairsnape Fell, as well as on neighbouring Holme House Fell. Gully reprofiling has taken place over Fiendsdale Head, and much of the work can be viewed from the flag path which was put in place as part of the previous year's work.
The AONB Partnership also organised three volunteer work parties up on the Bleasdale Fells, planting moorland plug plants, translocating sphagnum mosses into newly created pools, and monitoring the vegetation currently present.
Signs are good that the moorland is responding well to the restoration works undertaken so far, and the AONB Partnership are hoping to develop a citizen science monitoring project on site, where members of the public will be able to send in photos from specific points, showing how the moorland is recovering.
Peat Restoration - Bleasdale Fells 2011-12
Over the winter of 2011/2012 a combination of habitat restoration and public access improvements have been carried out on Bleasdale Fells. This work has focused on two areas: Fiendsdale Head and Fairsnape Fell plateau, and has largely been funded through Defra's Higher Level Stewardship administered by Natural England with support from the Forest of Bowland AONB, United Utilities, Bleasdale Estate and Lancashire County Council.
Bleasdale Fells form part of the Bowland Fells Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): part of this designation is because these upland fells support the largest expanse of blanket bog and heather moorland in Lancashire and provide suitable habitat for a diverse upland breeding bird community. The area has been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive in recognition of this.
Unfortunately the habitats on parts of the Bleasdale Fells have deteriorated through a combination of natural effects such as the wind and rain, overgrazing, increasing recreational use of the area and the contribution of moorland wildfires.
At Fiensdale Head to prevent further deterioration and enable the habitat to recover 840 metres of the footpath over Bleasdale and United Utilities land has been restored using a combination of flag path surfacing and subsoil re-profiling with associated drainage and habitat restoration. The eroding peat in the wider area has been re-profiled and heather brash/grass seed applied.
On Fairsnape Fell plateau a large area has been fenced off and within it the eroding peat hags have been re-profiled and reseeded with heather brash/grass seed. Until the edges are re-colonised and stabilised by the new vegetation these edges are unstable. The area has been fenced off to exclude sheep grazing.
At the fence junction near the cairn at 1707, use of the kissing gates over the deep eroding peat had become very difficult. Here the gates have been relocated away from the eroding peat and a subsoil/flag path has been created linking people off Wolf Fell to the cairn at 1707. For more information on upland habitats have a look at our Habitat's page.