The Lancashire peatlands have largely been lost or seriously damaged, extensive areas through peat extraction. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has taken on some of the former peat extraction areas and is doing a huge amount of work to restore what they can. Fixing an isolated patch of a much larger peatland area is tricky but the work has shown some great improvements in bog areas, with a steady recovery as the work is carried out.
Cadishead Moss is a tiny fragment of bog with farmland on three sides and a large peat extraction area on the fourth. The work over the past 2 years has levelled areas, installed peat bunds (banks forming a long dam) removed trees and installed pipes with adjustable water level control. Similar work has also been carried out on other local sites including Asltey Moss, a much larger site a mile or so to the north, but with equally complex boundary problems. Here too peat extraction has occurred but much longer ago. The work on wetting up areas is still ongoing with similar solutions to those at Cadishead installed and, for the most part, working well to achieve an improving habitat.
The vegetation on the sites is relatively poor in terms of bog vegetation, a few sphagnum mosses, lots of cotton grass but only a sprinkling of things like cross-leaved heath and one tiny patch of sundew across the two sites. Insects are a little more diverse, particularly the dragonflies. It was a bright sunny day today so the black darters, common darters, four-spotted chasers and common hawkers were in abundance but very flighty. A few brown hawkers were also to be seen, a photograph confirmed identification but would never win a photographic prize! There were a few butterflies too, not bog species but skippers, meadow browns and gatekeepers to be seen on the grassy margins. A brief glimpse of a hobby was an interesting diversion but a bit more of a problem for the dragonflies that may well end up as its food!
The peat extraction areas are always a bit of a shock to see. These vast areas of peatland are being ‘milled’ to remove peat for horticulture. It seems so ironic that large amounts of rare natural habitat have been lost in the name of creating beautiful gardens. The removed peat also oxidises releasing the locked up carbon into the atmosphere as Carbon dioxide, a two-fold environmental problem.