A QUARTER of a million pound project to restore a series of internationally-important hidden wetland habitats in Delamere Forest has got off to a successful start.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust has kick-started the £250,000 scheme with local volunteers by removing trees and scrubland as part of a project to restore rare mosslands in the popular forest.
The trust is reassuring the public that any trees being removed would not naturally form a part of the much more open mossland landscape it is reinstating.
These wetland areas would have been the original landscape features of the area a century ago, before the largely man-made coniferous forest was introduced.
A result of the last Ice Age, shallow pools or ‘meres’ were left behind as the ice shifted and retreated, and these pools were then occupied by specialist plants and wildlife including white-faced darter dragonflies, carnivorous round-leaved sundews and mossland ‘super-plant’ sphagnum moss.
Sphagnum moss can store up to 20 times its dry weight in water and the restoration of healthy upland sphagnum bogs could prove a natural method of storing some of the rainfall that has contributed to flooding in many parts of the UK.
The trust has also entered the second year of a scheme to reintroduce the white-faced darter dragonfly back into Delamere Forest after it became extinct in Cheshire more than a decade ago.
Katie Piercy, who is leading the Lost Mosslands project, said: “We know how precious trees are to people and wildlife, especially here in Cheshire where we are the least wooded county in England.
“However, we have a special case with these rare mosslands – more than nine out of 10 of which have already been lost in Britain – and an opportunity to help revive the fortunes of the very special wildlife that makes a home there.
“Although we’re removing a small number of very common trees like birch, in turn we’re allowing habitats to regenerate that on a wider scale can assist with retaining rainwater and store carbon, which has a crucial role to play in our wider battle with climate change.”
The Delamere’s Lost Mosslands project is being supported by WREN, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Chester West and Chester Council.
For more information visit cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/lostmosses or call Katie Piercy on 01948 820728.