White beak sedge not seen for a century

Wednesday 11th July 2018

White beak sedge by Mark ChampionWhite beak sedge by Mark Champion

A plant has been found on Astley Moss, 150 years since it was last recorded there.

The white beak sedge has surprised officers from the Wildlife Trust.

And by coincidence, it was found as the Great Manchester Wetlands Partnership have been reintroducing white beak sedge to Risley Moss.

Wigan Reserves Manager Mark Champion said: “Following the reintroduction of white beak sedge onto Risley Moss around a month or so ago, I today had a visit with flora expert Josh Styles to Astley Moss to assess suitability for reintroduction for a suite of species formerly recorded there. One of these species was actually white beak sedge.

“To our absolute amazement, we stumbled upon two plants of white beak sedge amongst the population of round-leaved sundew. These plants, bar the reintroduced population at Risley are the first seen in the county for around 150 odd years.

“We are overjoyed at this discovery, which shows the re-wetting work by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and it partners at Natural England is starting to pay

To our absolute amazement, we stumbled upon two plants

dividends now as the habitat is improving and the rarer species a colonising.

“We concluded that the population was regenerated by native Astley stock from the seedbank, which lies under the soil.

“Although we did not see any more than these plants, it is probable that white beak sedge may exist on other, less accessible parts of Astley Moss.”

The Wildlife Trust owns a number of mosslands in the area, including Little Woolden, Cadishead and Highfield. Despite the hot weather, the aim is to keep the mosses wet for wildlife and to boost carbon capture, helping the environment.