Project to restore north Shropshire's mosses in running for international award

A project helping to restore the north Shropshire mosses - one of the rarest habitats on earth - has been shortlisted for an international award.

Restoring the mosses, photo Natural England
Restoring the mosses, photo Natural England

The Marches Mosses BogLIFE project is in the running for the 2022 Institution of Civil Engineers, People’s Choice Award.

This competition showcases the best of civil engineering, recognising projects that have a positive impact on the local economy and communities whilst at the same time, highlighting the positive benefits civil engineering has on people’s everyday lives and society as a whole.

The BogLIFE project was designed to restore Britain’s third-largest lowland raised peatbog within the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserves. This habitat stores more than 10 times the carbon of the equivalent area of rainforest with a recent university study confirming that the Marches Mosses holds over one million tonnes.

Volunteers working on the mosses

Contractor for the project, WM Longreach of Bridgnorth said: “We are proud to have been involved in this forward-thinking project making a massive contribution to carbon reduction and the future wellbeing of our local region both environmentally and economically.”

Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have been working to restore 665 hectares of the Marches Mosses during the five year project.

Robert Duff for the BogLIFE project said: A UK-first for bog edge habitat restoration on this scale, the peatland landscape at multiple locations required reverse engineering, whilst sensitively designing and considering the ecology, wildlife, and local communities.

"Healthy peat bogs are vitally important for both nature recovery and tackling climate change. Its important that where we carry out restoration schemes they are carefully designed and sensitively undertaken in consultation with the local community."

A project team of local ecologists, designers, engineers and their apprentices, local contractors and BogLIFE project trainees have worked together closely despite the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring community engagement throughout. Supervising engineers on the projectincluded Lichfield based, RAB Consultants and also Wrexham based, WSP.

"Local involvement in the project has been key with volunteers devoting some 875 hours of their time to supporting its delivery. The community have been at the heart of this project not only in its execution but also in conception and design, with time spent liaising with disability advocates to ensure new audiences gain access to nature, another central goal of the project," Mr Duff said.

Other projects shortlisted are the Lekki Deep Sea Port Project, Nigeria, Lincoln Flood Defences, Wolshingham Sewage Treatment works, County Durham, Seacombe Ferry Terminal Refurbishment, Wallasey, and Stockingfield Bridge, Glasgow

The institution.s Midlands Regional Director, Jo Barnett, said: “What a great achievement for the Marches Mosses BogLIFE project to be shortlisted in the ICE People’s Choice Award. The standard of this competition was very high, and I am delighted that our region is being represented by this fantastic scheme and the great project team behind it. I do hope the local community gets behind this fantastic project and votes for it.”

The public vote opens at 10am on Tuesday, for six weeks, with the winner will be announced soon after voting closes.

Members of the public can view the projects and cast their votes here: https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/peoples-choice-award/.

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