All change to protect moorland

Action: Work continues on peat restoration project at Bleasdale Fell
Action: Work continues on peat restoration project at Bleasdale Fell

Visitors walking up Parlick from Fell Foot may have noticed some strange activity going on recently.

A helicopter will fly overhead, diggers will reshape the land and new dams will be created.

This scene-changing drama is being played out in the Forest of Bowland.

It has a very serious purpose – to protect local peat uplands.

The work targets an area used for the past 30 years as one of Lancashire’s most popular natural playgrounds.

It is land frequented by fell walkers and runners and most recently used for hang gliding and paragliding.

The diggers are already at work on the Bleasdale Fells, above Bleasdale and Oakenclough villages, working to restore the peat upland profiles, which in turn will help reduce CO2 emissions in the forest.

After the land has been re-shaped, the helicopter will move in to drop hundreds of bundles of heather brash, lime, fertiliser, seed and more than 2,000 plug plants.

The plants will be planted by volunteers later in the spring, to help re-establish vegetation. Heather, grass seed and bog mosses will also be added.

The land re-shaping is intended to make the edges of the fell tops more gently sloping. The Environment Agency-led project will also see the agency, supported by Lancashire County Council and the Forest of Bowland AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), create dams to slow the flow of water currently washing peat downstream in the Bleasdale Fells, near Chipping.

These fells form part of the Bowland Fells SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Jeremy Duckworth, who owns the Bleasdale estate, said heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and the local beauty spots are a big driver for the local economy.

“The moor has outstanding natural beauty and helps attract thousands of visitors a year to Bowland which in turn pumps vital money into our remote rural economy,” he said.

“Three quarters of the world’s heather moorland is found here in Britain.”

Alison Whalley, Environment Agency project manager, said: “The partnership project will help secure the future for the local flora and fauna.

“Peatlands are an important part of our landscape, playing an essential role in creating habitats for wildlife as well as improving water flow and storage.”

Tarja Wilson, the county council’s senior environmental projects officer, said: “This restoration work will ensure that people can continue to enjoy our special places and landscapes.”