Habitat Action Plan: Lowland Raised Bog

By | August 7, 2008

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1 Current status
1.1 National
In the UK lowland raised bogs are a particular feature of cool, rather humid regions
such as the north-west lowlands of England, the central and north-east lowlands of
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but remnants also occur in some southern and
eastern localities, for example Somerset, South Yorkshire and Fenland.
In its pristine form, the habitat is ombrogenous, i.e. fed only by rainwater. Sphagnum
mosses are the principal peat-forming species on natural UK lowland raised peat
bogs, and their dominance in the living vegetation layer gives a bog its ‘spongy’
surface.
Peat accumulation preserves a unique and irreplaceable record of plant and animal
remains and some atmospheric deposits from which it is possible to assess historical
patterns of vegetation, climate change and human land use.
There has been a dramatic decline in the area of lowland raised bog since around the
turn of the nineteenth century, from an original c. 95,000 ha to c. 6,000 ha at present.
England’s resource has reduced from 37,500 ha to 500 ha, a loss of 98.6%.

1.2 Local
The lowland raised bogs of the Mersey Basin continue across Merseyside, West
Lancashire and western Greater Manchester with an estimated 10,728 ha in the mid
nineteenth century. By the middle of the twentieth century approximately 2,804 ha
remained, most of which had been significantly modified. By the start of the 21st
century all of Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester only has 499.6 ha of
relic mossland habitat still supporting semi-natural Bog vegetation.
Only two actively growing bogs still survive in North Merseyside with abundant peat
forming Sphagnum moss, Acornfield Plantation, Kirkby, and Sutton & Bold Mosses
(Colliers Moss), St Helens, covering an area of less than 5.1 ha.
In addition, some 16ha of drained but relatively unmodified areas of habitat survive at
King’s Moss, part of the once extensive Holiday Moss
Other small patches of degraded bogs remain, mostly in agricultural use, although
many have been used for peat extraction and used as landfill sites. However of these
peatlands, 66 ha of mossland with semi-natural bog vegetation (M25, Molinia
caerulea-Potentilla erecta mire and W4, Betula pubescens-Molinia caerulea
woodland) still occur in the area.