Flanders Moss NNR
How it started
The former conifer plantation on Flanders Moss. NNR. The 40ha was planted in the 1970s, half Sitka spruce and half Lodgepole pine but the trees never grew that well, perhaps unsurprising because of the waterlogged, nutrient poor ground conditions.
In 1997/8 NatureScot took the brave decision to remove the trees to try to restore that part of Flanders Moss to bog habitat. It was a costly project, about half of the trees were used in brash mats to support the machinery to get the other half of the trees off the site. The result was a brown bare site that looked nothing like a bog.
But over the next 25 years much restoration work has been carried out with ditches blocked, grazing introduced and the remaining stumps and planting ridges smoothed out.
How it’s going now
The plantation now is unrecognisable compared to when the trees were first removed. Sphagnum and cotton grass are spreading, sundew and cranberry are popping up and specialised bog creatures such as large heath and northern emerald dragonflies are spreading into the recreated bog. Ditches are full to overflowing with water making the ground even wetter. Sheep have been introduced as a sustainable way of controlling spreading birch trees.
This is the prove that bog restoration is well worth doing. We have locked up carbon and preventing it going into the atmosphere so mitigating a changing climate. we have created new habitat for rare plants and animals. We are holding onto rainwater on a flood plain so reducing problems of flooding downstream. And we had incorporated an area of bog into a farming unit by introducing grazing so showing the value of peatlands to the farming community. All it takes in time, water and some investment of money. It offers great value to society.