Flanders Moss NNR and Blawhorn Moss NNR
When immersed in the peatland conference a couple of weeks ago I heard a number of presentations about the value of peatlands. Peatlands are actually immensely useful to society in a number of ways, especially in the current situation of changing climate.
I heard about how peat bogs contain lots of carbon and if they dry out they release this into the atmosphere which can make the climate change worse. And by wetting up bogs not only is that carbon locked up but more carbon is taken from the atmosphere as more peat is formed.
Bogs are also good at reducing flooding as they act as a sponge and hold onto rainfall and release it slowly so reducing peak flows in rivers. And with increasing big rainfall events flooding is becoming an increasing problem.
A vegetated bog with plenty of sphagnum will also release cleaner water than a bare dried out bog. Exposed peat gets washed into streams so lowering water quality.
Bogs are also home to rare wildlife, like the bog sun-jumper spider which is only found on 8 sites across the UK, with Flanders being the main site.
These are all really important things and show how important peatlands are, but it is really only the academics and researchers that get excited about these things.
But if you ask what everyday visitors to Flanders or Blawhorn like about bogs they almost certainly won’t list any of these things.
What they might talk about is the feel of the place and might use words like:
– wildness, tranquility, beautiful colours, peace and quiet, calming, openness, big skies and wind in the face. Certainly when visitors were surveyed at Flanders these were the reasons given why they visited.
So how people value bogs can be summed up as :
Academics loved bogs for surface and everything below it but everyday visitors love bogs for the surface and everything above it.
It is important that as bog managers we remember that!