Blanket Bog Fact 1: Blanket bog is the main peatland habitat found in wet, upland areas of Northern England. The name is derived from the ‘blanket’ layer of peat that blanket bogs are made of, formed from slowly decomposing plants.
(Blanket bog by Tim Melling)
Blanket Bog Fact 2: It can take 1,000 years for up to one metre of peat to accumulate, which is why it is so important to protect and restore it. A top tip for helping to conserve this rare habitat is to make sure you choose peat-free compost in your garden.
Blanket Bog Fact 3: We probably don't think of our small island being significant in a global context when it comes to nature, after all we don't tend to have world famous habitats like the Sahara Desert or Niagra Falls, but the UK boasts almost 15% of the entire world’s blanket bog!
Blanket Bog Fact 4: The very word ‘bog’ conjures up the image of a wonderful, wet, green area but sadly this is far from current reality....Despite their importance, the UK’s bogs have suffered over the last century for a variety of reasons: a combination of industrial pollution, managed moorland fires, wild fires, draining for agriculture and heavy grazing, has left them seriously damaged with large areas of exposed bare peat and a limited amount of vegetation and therefore wildlife.
Blanket Bog Fact 5: The ‘building-block’ of blanket bog, sphagnum moss, (of which there are over 30 species in the UK), can hold up to 20 times its own weight in water. This means it can keep water on the tops for longer, slowing the flow and reducing flooding downstream.
(Sphagnum moss by Tim Melling)
Blanket Bog Fact 6: Blanket bogs are highly significant in combating the climate emergency. When restored, wet and vegetated, they are very effective at locking up carbon. Did you know? There is more carbon stored in UK’s blanket bog than in all of the forests in the UK, France and Germany combined! Wowzers.
Blanket Bog Fact 7: Blanket bog is home to some of our rarest wildlife. Our bog restoration work here at Dove Stone has seen an increase in iconic upland wading birds such as dunlins, curlews and golden plovers.
(Dunlin by Tim Melling)
Blanket Bog Fact 8: Seven out of 10 litres of the UK’s drinking water comes from the uplands. Much of this land is blanket bog, which can improve water quality by acting as a filter.
Blanket Bog Fact 9: Re-wetted blanket bog is vital for building up fire resistance in our uplands. It is much harder to burn wet, green vegetation than bare peat, which can smoulder for months once fire has set in. In terms of last summer’s major fire, there is evidence on the ground that wet gullies at Dove Stone, where Sphagnum mosses have been re-introduced, played a role in slowing the spread and intensity of the fire.
Blanket Bog Fact 10: For all of these reasons: combating climate change, improving water quality, increasing fire resilience and creating a better home for nature, the RSPB has been working in partnership with landowners United Utilities here at Dove Stone, since 2005. We also work closely with the Peak District National Park, Oldham Council, Life for a Life Memorial Forest, Saddleworth Police, our marshals and a whole host of local people, to keep this place special for people and nature.
There you have it, 10 big reasons why it's important to celebrate and conserve our precious blanket bogs. Discover more about our award-winning work to save it, supported by our fantastic volunteers here.
Restoring the bog at Dove Stone by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
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