Having now been in the post of Sphagnum Recovery Officer at Dove Stone Reserve in the Peak District for a few weeks, it was about time I stopped wandering around the reserve in a world of Sphagnum, crawl out of the bog to introduced myself and the work that I, and a gang of willing volunteers will be doing over the next 3 years of this WREN funded project.

This endless wandering has had its purpose as it is essential that I know every nook and cranny of the project sites (a total of 4 km2) looking for areas of abundant sphagnum that we can sustainably harvest and re-plant (using the techniques mastered over the last 5 years by the Wardens on the Reserve) and look for areas where we can re-introduce Sphagnum from harvested from areas where it is abundant, outside the South Pennines. A great deal of work has already been done to reintroduce sphagnum, but we have a LONG way to go to restore these areas back in to fully-functioning blanket bogs. That’s why...we need your help. Have a look at the RSPB volunteer page for a better idea of what is involved and what you need to bring.

Harvesting Sphagnum Moss

The first volunteer day took place on the 24th November and with the help of my first volunteer, we’ve relocated 700 individual handfuls of Sphagnum (that’s 0.01% done with only 69,300 to go!). If you’re interested in joining me in some harvesting and planting on the Reserve please drop me an email. I’m also planning a training event in the next 3 months for novices and experts in the need of a refresher in Sphagnum identification.

If you’re interested in Sphagnum in general, the following is useful and an interesting read - British Bryological Society’s Sphagnum field guide

That’s also why we will also be doing some more practical work on the project to also create more suitable areas for Sphagnum such as blocking eroding gullies to increase the wetness of areas by slowing down water drainage and increasing the water table and cutting areas of mature heather increase plant diversity by creating space for planting Sphagnum, and other moorland plants to grow.

Stone Dam gully blocking at Dove Stone

During these wonderful days of bog-trotting, I have also been searching for suitable erosion gullies that can be blocked; I have also been organising for areas on one site at Robinson’s Moss (an area recently affected by a large moorland fire) to organise to have areas of mature heather cut. This creates all sorts of benefits on different levels:

  1. Creates fire breaks that will help to prevent fires spreading out of control in future
  2. Cutting heather slows down heather re-growth compared to traditional burning as heather is tolerant to burning compared to other species (especially Bryophytes or mosses) thus increasing diversity by allowing these other plants to grow.
  3. Cutting in wetter areas will also create areas for Sphagnum planting.