A healthy blanket bog relies on a high water table for its unique and boggy conditions. Every year, volunteers measure the depth of the water table in hundreds of locations. This is known as Moors for the Future Partnership’s dipwell campaign.
The data has been analysed by Partnership scientists, and interesting results have surfaced. The benefits of restoration were unusually visible in 2018 (a drought year), with water tables much higher than they would have been without the restoration work. The rising of the water table was less visible in 2019 as all the locations were very soggy due to the wet autumn of 2019.
But even with the wet autumn clouding the results, the initial results from this year’s campaign generally show that water tables are continuing to rise. The bogs are becoming wetter even in the face of hot, dry summers. This improves their resilience to drought and reduces opportunities for devastating wildfires to burn uncontrollably.
These datasets underpin all the work the Partnership does by evidencing the effects of its conservation works. They were made possible by the brilliant volunteers who headed out each week in autumn, in often gruelling conditions, to collect this valuable data. 900 measurements were manually taken across the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation, adding richness and depth to this long-term dataset.
Long-term datasets are vitally important for conservation work as landscapes often take time to respond to changes made by conservationists. Observing and recording the effects of conservation actions informs researchers and land managers on how best to approach moorland restoration, by providing insight into what has worked to make the landscape healthier and what hasn’t.
Full analysis will be published in the final report on completion of the MoorLIFE 2020 project in 2021.