Flanders Moss NNR
In a couple of dark corners of Flanders Moss there are rubbish dumps on the nature reserve. A scan of these dumps show that they are not recent but date back to before the 1960s. Their presence reflects that changing values and perceptions that people have for Flanders Moss.
Back after the 2nd World War the peatland of Flanders Moss was viewed as valueless land as it was not capable of making money and the natural history wasn’t valued for itself. At around this time there were several schemes that looked at the possibility of draining the whole site and even one that proposed digging up the whole moss and burning the peat in a power station. Luckily little progress was made but in the meantime the moss edge was where the local farms dumped their rubbish. One farmer that owns a piece of Flanders Moss once said to me that it was the most “useless piece of land he could think of”.
But views are changing. Now Flanders is valued for a number of different reasons. Local people are proud of it and the Moss contributes to the local economy. And the farmer who thought his land was worthless is now paid a small amount of money to let us manage it as a nature reserve and it has become an important part of his farm.
It is also interesting to look at the rubbish in these dumps. It is almost all glass (they seems to mainly drink Ironbrew and MacEwans!) and metal with virtually no plastic at all. Nowadays plastic has become the material that everything is made out of and most metal and glass are recycled. If recycling had been introduced much earlier there would have been no rubbish to dump in those days.
And I am pleased to say that a few things from the dump have made it back to my home to be reused. Old galvanised buckets make great waste bins, old marmalade pots hold kitchen utensils and a hen water trough is back in use after years lying abandoned.
And why haven’t the dumps been cleared up? They are in out of the way places that makes it very difficult to get machinery to and the cost to remove the rubbish and tidy up the areas would be enormous. So far it has been more important to spend that money on restoration of the bog habitat across the rest of Flanders. But who knows, some day we might get to the position of being able to remove these eyesores and restore these sites back to nature.