Bad news for reindeer?

Blawhorn Moss NNR.

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A walk across Blawhorn Moss and you can see lots of the very beautiful Cladonia lichens. These are commonly known as Reindeer Moss (even though it is a lichen!) because when it grows further north on the Arctic tundra it is the main food for reindeer. They are quite beautiful to look at and when carpets develop they give an eerie, misty ground level glow on grey days.

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The down side is that they tend to do best on damaged bogs that have been burned and drained in the past. Their presence on Blawhorn illustrates its checkered history and its spread is down to the fact that previously ditches were put in across the surface of the moss to dry it out, and the moss was often burned in an attempt to improve the grazing.

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But a close look at the surface of the moss show that in places the sphagnum is starting to take over from the reindeer moss. Following on from the restoration works on bunding and ditch blocking Blawhorn is starting to get wetter. This favours sphagnum moss over the Cladonia and creeping carpets of sphagnum spread across the bog surface. It might not please the reindeer but it warms the cockles of a bog manager’s heart as it means that all the damming is starting to work !

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