The green fingered scientists
04 May 2018
Moors for the Future Partnership scientists, Tom Spencer and Dave Chandler, have led a huge effort by volunteers and staff to plant 15,000 sphagnum plants on a monitoring site on Kinder during the harsh winter and spring of 2018.
The site was a two hour hike from the roadside, with everyone doing their bit to carry the heavy plug plants and equipment.
“It’s definitely a team strengthening exercise because there’s this sense that you’re all in it together” says Dave. “The weather can make the task hard and challenging so you’ve all got to pull together. When someone is feeling low we band together to pick them up."
“I find that taking some cake for everybody to share is a good one for lifting spirits, especially when the sleet is blowing sideways!” adds Tom. “A lot of the time we’re there with volunteers so you’re very aware that they are giving up their time to help you with the job, and it’s not an easy job. The volunteers are so inspiring because they just get on with it and are always keen to do whatever is needed. How can you not be happy working with people like that?”
The sphagnum plugs have been planted on a special ‘monitoring’ site on Kinder. The plugs were planted very densely at only 15cm apart. This is so the bog can start functioning as a healthy blanket bog as soon possible so that the team can monitor the effects of sphagnum moss on slowing the flow of rainwater.
But it’s not always happy days. “Despite the fact that we’re scientists, we miscounted and took one thousand too many sphagnum plugs up the hill! It’s a steep climb up to the site and carrying the sphagnum plugs makes it physically challenging and so having to carry a thousand of them back down was a bit disheartening,” says Dave. “Things like that can get you down when you’re low on morale and it’s on those days you need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing”.
“I suppose that’s the key to motivation. You can often feel hopeless in the face of all the environmental problems in the world. Like how can I make a difference to something as massive as climate change? But that’s the point. My work means I am making a difference to the environment because of all the benefits healthy blanket bogs provide. I’m planting the sphagnum today. The sphagnum makes peat. And peat locks carbon in the ground. So I am helping to combat climate change. That’s what gets me up that hill when it’s sleeting sideways” says Tom.
“That and the cake of course!” laughs Dave.