Flanders Moss, NNR
A couple of weeks ago I was approached by SRUC Oatridge tutor, John McGregor to lead a short talk/walk around Flanders Moss as he was hosting a field study group from Slovenia with a background of running agri-tourism businesses.
First off we went up the tower to get an overview of the moss, I had been warned that they might ask a lot of questions and they did just that! So much so it was quite overwhelming.
Whilst I told them about Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve and the legislation that protects it, they told me about their special place in Slovenia ,The Skocjan Caves, which has plenty of biodiversity and a distinctive topography which has been strongly influenced by carbonate rock and water, creating characteristic surfaces and underground features. They also talked about the Krizna cave with its special fragile underground lakes. These lakes are so sensitive that they only allow 4 people a day to visit them. Whilst at Flanders Moss we don’t restrict the number of visitors to the fragile reserve, we do protect the sensitive bog surface by managing visitors using boardwalk to keep feet off the bog surface and asking people to keep to the path.
They describe the caves as leaving one with the feeling of respect and a sense of the need to protect and preserve them. And I think by making that decision to limiting 4 tourists a day, just shows how important this site is to protect and preserve. It’s not all down to the number of visitors that make a site very special.
They found it very amusing when standing on top of the tower where I showed them some red deer on the moss and used the word ‘beasts’, it got most of them laughing as their exact words were “That’s not a beast, it’s just fat! A beast is a bear”.
In Slovenia they have a variety of animal species, including many large wild animals likes wolves, lynx and bears so I am not surprised they weren’t that enamored with the red deer. I also touched on the subject of the damage the deer are doing on the moss and the difficulties that come with extracting the carcasses off.
Hosting these groups is always fascinating as it gives the chance to look at the similarities and differences between special site.