Species not seen in 90 years spotted in Shropshire nature reserve project

Rare species are being found once again at a Shropshire nature reserve thanks to a £5 million project.

Dr Joan Daniels
Dr Joan Daniels

The multi-million pound Marches Mosses BogLife project, which is a partnership between Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Shropshire Wildlife Trust, is one year into a five-year scheme.

Dr Joan Daniels, Marches Mosses BogLife officer, said there has already been great progress in restoring Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog in Whixall, near Whitchurch, with species not sighted since the 1930s recorded.

She said: “Some of the wildlife on site has become so diminished there are populations we do not know about because they are so small.

“As we have been re-wetting the site, some species, which have not been recorded since the 1930s, have been discovered as well as species not recorded before.

“Some really rare bog species have already spread.

“It is exciting as we do more bunding, species will be able to multiply.”

In addition the project also aims to restore swamp, fen, willow and alder carr wet woodland, and the habitats missing from the edge of the bog. These areas will provide homes for willow and marsh tit and rare bog wildlife such as elongated sedge and the beautiful purple bordered gold moth.

The funding will pay for the acquisition of a further 63 hectares of peatland, and enable water levels to be raised over 600 hectares to improve the raised bog habitat.

New restoration techniques such as contour bunding will be utilised to help the mosses retain more water and prevent the peat decaying further, helping to counteract the effects of climate change.

The BogLife project will also tackle air and water pollution issues on the bog, with 4.5km of mineral-rich ditch being diverted, but more notably with oily debris and 100,000 tyres from Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s, which is being cleaned up.

Dr Daniels added: “One of the first major actions was trying to buy the extra land. We have made good progress with that.

“There are hardly any of these special habitats in the UK so to get the bog plants growing again is very important.”

“Once we have bought all the land we then want to put in place engineering schemes to create wetland.

“On the Welsh side we want to fell conifer trees and block all the water in the site.

“We also want to use bunding to make little paddy fields and hold more water on site.

“We have a good team of nine people on board now which is great.”

Dr Daniels said there were spaces for volunteers to help the project - from office work to cutting down scrub.

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