When things go wrong

Flanders Moss NNR

Things went a bit wrong last week on Flanders. Working with our partners Froglife on this particular project we were trying to block up a very old ditch to recreate fen and pool habitats and add a buffering effect to the surrounding peatland. The machine that we were using was an 8 ton specially adapted low ground pressure digger with extra wide tracks to support its weight on very wet ground. But it found a deep hole and went in. Now, a strangely shaped 8 ton lump of metal stuck deep in a bog a long way from dry ground is a problem. And the problem took more machines and a number of people to solve. And it isn’t a good look for a nature reserve, so I was strongly tempted to hide the photos, put it out of my mind and never mention what was a very stressful period ever again.

But actually there is a lot to learn from these adventures. It can be useful to swallow your pride and tell others about where things went horribly wrong so that they learn from it. It should be remembered that we are working in very challenging conditions when taking big machines on to what is like one of the UK’s biggest blancmanges – a huge blob of liquid peat with a thin skim of vegetation across the surface. And we are trying to repair damage created to a huge wetland over a couple of hundreds of years. This is important work as wetlands and peatlands are vital in the current climate and biodiversity emergency through locking up carbon, holding onto flood waters and providing a home for rare plants and animals. So we have to push the boundaries a bit.

Undoubtedly, with this little exercise we would do some things differently. Mistakes were made, especially with the initial attempts to debog the machine. But it has been a learning experience for all involved. And to carry out this sort of challenging work we need experienced, skilled machine operators with good knowledge of working on wet sites.

So the machine is now out and the site cleared up as much as possible. Nature will heal the marks left and there doesn’t seem to be any long term damage. And we have 2 pools created for amphibians and dragonflies (not as many as planned but better than nothing), hopefully an increased area of fen and a lot of valuable experience in the knowledge bank. Onwards and upwards!

The recovery of the bogged machine.
Finishing the tidying up.
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4 Responses to When things go wrong

  1. David Eastwood says:

    This is a very important blog
    We can never completely remove the risk of failures, but we can learn invaluable lessons from them. This is important information to be shared to benefit wider conservation goals. I understand that it is difficult when funding for conservation is so tight but the only really way to learn is by doing. Keep up the fantastic work and share all those experiences for the greater good.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dave – any chance of some more detail on how you got it out? I’m assuming pulled out with a cable by a bigger machine?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith Morton says:

    I understand at least one large machine is entombed in the peatlands of the Flows. I like to fantasise about the musings of a future archaeologist who, a few thousand years into the future, finds it and tries to understand the circumstances.
    “The late 20th Century people who used these huge artefacts may have been far more intelligent than we realise. Although we do not know what these strange devices were used for, we think they would have been costly and expensive high status items. So deliberately placing such a machine in what was clearly a sacred place must have been a considerable economic sacrifice and represents a profound act of religious observance. It is likely that it was a desperate act by a society trying to appease the Gods and stave of the impending collapse of their unsustainable civilisation. ”

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Avoiding disaster on the bog | 2 bogs, a swamp and some islands

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