Sunday 25th July is a special day in the world of nature conservation. It is International Bog Day, and has been held since 1991 to celebrate the beauty of bogs and mosslands, and to encourage their conservation.
This year’s Bog Day comes at a time when the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is fighting to save Chat Moss in Salford from an application to extend peat extraction on the site.
Tim Mitcham, the Trust’s Head of Conservation said: “Bogs are home to many rare and beautiful plants and animals, but a combination of drainage for agriculture, development such as railways, and more recently extraction of peat for horticulture, has meant that there are now only a few relic bogs left in the north west. Even the few that are left are threatened by drying out and rising temperatures.”
What many people do not realise is that bogs are thousands of years old. Over that entire period they have gradually been removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into carbon in the form of peat. The carbon store amounts to many millions of tons, the equivalent of 35 years of the total annual UK output of CO2.
If the bog is damaged by drying out or by peat extraction, that carbon is released back into the atmosphere, with potentially devastating effects, undoing all the good work that had been done in storing the carbon. This is one reason why it is so important to conserve the remaining bogs.
Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "It’s simply astounding what can be found in our peat bogs – plants like the sundew and the beautiful bog asphodel, frogs, many different types of dragonfly, moth and butterfly including the rare large heath butterfly.
“Yet many of us don’t realise how magical these Living Landscapes are. International Bog Day gives us the chance to draw attention to our precious peat bogs, and also how important it is to help protect them. The Wildlife Trusts are already working hard to do this, for example Lancashire Wildlife Trust is campaigning to protect Chat Moss from further peat extraction, and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is a key player in the Yorkshire Peat Partnership, established to restore Yorkshire’s upland bogs. But we need your support too - from joining your local Wildlife Trust which looks after these habitats, to simply using peat-free compost in your garden.
“Bogs are not just fascinating habitats packed with rare plants and other wildlife. They are also one of our most precious carbon stores – a study by the North West Wildlife Trusts has shown, in this region alone, restored bogs could absorb the carbon emissions of 55,400 people every year. They can also play an important part in absorbing water in times of heavy rainfall, helping to prevent flooding.
“The destruction of our bogs spells a loss for wildlife and for our battle against climate change – even more reason it’s important to protect these rare habitats.”
People can support by the work of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust by donating towards the Mosslands project, or find out more by emailing email@example.com for more information.
To learn more about our fight to save Chat Moss and how you can help by objecting to the application, click here.