Little Woolden Moss Restoration

In 2018, the British Airways Carbon Fund partially funded the peatland restoration of Little Woolden Moss, an important central fragment (area covering 107ha) of the historic Chat Peatlands, Lancashire.

The project will enable the rewetting of over 70ha of former peat extraction and planting of bog species that have been lost to the site, creating a valuable stepping-stone for mossland species thus subsequently restoring the site to its former glory over the 3-year restoration period.

What are peatlands?
Peatland, or peat bogs, are a type of wetland created through the accumulation of partially decomposed organic material (e.g., plants or mosses). They occupy around 12% of the UK’s land area the equivalent of over 2 million hectares.

Why are they important?
Peatlands hold a multitude of environmental and social benefits…

“Peatlands are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth and a stark example of how important our natural environment is to our wellbeing. Occupying just 3% of the Earth’s land surface, peatlands are our largest carbon store on land. They are places where people derive clean water and food and can act as buffers for environmental disasters, such as flooding. They are also of global significance for biodiversity with the majority of peatland species and habitats rare, threatened or declining.” Inger Anderson, Director of the IUCN.

Unfortunately, this valuable natural resource is under threat, with only a tenth of UK peatland classified to be in ‘good’ condition.

The historic human extraction of peatland through the process of burning or draining, not only damages local biodiversity but also converts land capable of storing carbon, into areas that emit carbon and exacerbate climate change.

So, projects like this are vital to restoring peatland habitat whilst raising the profile of peatland protection and restoration.

How are Peatlands Restored?
Rewet + Replant = Revive
The first stage of peatland restoration is to rewet the land. Little Woodland Moss achieved this through utilising a complex piping system fed by rain water to stabilise water levels.

Intuitive replanting commenced at the site through the introduction of ‘solumoss’ and plug planting of valuable peatbog species, designed to promote collaborative growth.

Once re-vegetated, the plants, especially the bog mosses, provide a buffer against low water levels during the summer and prevent the loss of water from the habitat during drought conditions. This process will, in time heal the peat habitat, enabling the site to become self-sustaining.

Has Little Woolden Moss Restoration been a Big Success?
Yes! Our November site visit confirmed the progress and success of Little Woolden Moss peatland Restoration.
The site is already displaying signs of once again becoming an important biodiversity asset, rich in wildlife, and will act as a site of carbon storage and sequestration.

This project is a pilot of restoration processes to assess its potential for carbon reduction. With an estimated CO2 saving of 22.5 tonnes of over 30 years.

Planting is set to continue March 2020.