Early results show that we may be able to grow sustainable, cost-effective sphagnum moss on rafts in reservoirs.
As part of MoorLIFE 2020 we are tasked with innovating a sustainable method of sourcing sphagnum moss, the fundamental plant of blanket bogs, which is sorely missing from much of the Peak District and South Pennines.
Our experimental project to investigate the potential for growing sphagnum on rafts began in June 2017 on two disused United Utilities reservoirs in the Peak District. Our aim is to discover whether this can be a cost-effective method of farming sphagnum for replanting across the moors. We are also monitoring the reservoirs’ water quality to see if the presence of sphagnum improves it.
Early evaluation shows promising signs that enough sphagnum can be farmed on these two small reservoirs to plant on at least 0.5 square kilometres of blanket bog each year.
We’ve trialled several different raft designs and techniques and put clumps of hummock-forming Sphagnum magellanicum, Sphagnum papillosum and Sphagnum capillifolium, onto them. These excellent peat-building species are rare in the Peak District, making them extremely valuable for restoration work. Trial plants were sourced from local sites that have a sustainable population.
Canada geese seem to enjoy spending time on the rafts, but their droppings can smother the sphagnum so this is being monitored to see whether it will cause a major problem with sphagnum growth
The research is undertaken in partnership with RSPB and United Utilities.
Working together to bring life back to the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation.
Planting sphagnum and native moorland plants, the key peat-building and blanket bog species