Mossland restoration

Restoring our marvellous mosslands

Round-leaved sundew: Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

98 % of our mossland habitats have been destroyed

Despite mosslands being a vital part of our heritage and listed as a UK Priority Habitat, they are hugely undervalued and regarded as wastelands to be exploited for peat.

What is a mossland?

Healthy mosslands are wet and boggy. Combined with low oxygen conditions, this moisture means plant material doesn't rot and is instead compressed into acidic peat soil. The soil has very few nutrients; specialist conditions that nurture a range of important plants that have perfectly adapted to survive in this unique environment.


How did mosslands form?

Discover how these pieces of living history formed more than 10,000 years ago.

Read more

A healthy bog on Cadishead Moss

Why are mosslands so important?

Thanks to the wet, acidic, low nutrient conditions, mosslands have the ability to store millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that has been absorbed over thousands of years, helping in the fight against climate change. Not only that, but they reduce the risk of flooding by soaking up water during periods of high rainfall and gradually releasing it over time. By contrast, a degraded mossland actively leaks carbon into the atmosphere.

Mosslands are also key habitats for endangered and rare species of both plants and animals including the bog bush cricket, black darter dragonfly, round-leaved sundew and...

Sphagnum moss

Sphagnum moss is just one specialist plant species that has recolonised our Cadishead Moss reserve following restoration work (Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION)

Cotton grass

Cotton grass by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Brown hare

Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Large heath butterfly

The large heath butterfly is one of the species we're reintroducing in the Great Manchester Wetlands. Photo: Steve Rawlins - Chester Zoo

Why are mosslands under threat?

98% of the mosslands across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Merseyside have already been destroyed, and the precious 2% that remain face serious threats from all corners:

  • Draining: Removing moisture upsets the delicate mossland ecosystem and can very quickly turn it back into grassland or woodland. The mossland flora and fauna, adapted for the previous environment, then struggles to survive.
  • Agriculture: Fertilisers add nutrients to the low nutrient soil. These are then very difficult if not impossible to remove, permanently decreasing the area of mossland habitat.
  • Development: Mosslands are lowland habitats, where the pressure for them to be developed is much higher than in upland areas.
  • Misinformation: Historically, people placed little value on mossland habitats, seeing them as unproductive wastelands, and this preconception has endured.

How we are saving mosslands

Restoring and protecting our marvellous mosslands is crucial not just for wildlife, but for us. They are nature reserves, carbon-stores, flood barriers and a wild reminder of a time before man-made pressures took hold. Once a mossland has degraded past a certain point it cannot be restored, and this precious wild place will be lost forever.

Our reserve staff, conservation team, volunteers and project leaders are working hard to re-wet the mossland landscape, building dams and bunds to raise the water levels and begin the restoration process.

We are working with landowners to improve the condition of the mosslands they own, and we campaign for the protection of key mossland sites.

We purchase key mossland sites to protect them from destruction, restoring them and then maintaining them through continuous monitoring. We are dedicated to preserving these precious habitats for future generations of both people and wildlife.

A footpath leading through the ferns on Cadishead Moss

The Chat Moss Project

See how we're restoring lowland raised bogs in the Chat Moss area and engaging local communities with this fascinating habitat.

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A visitor to a mossland looking at an ancient mossland tree

An ancient mossland tree

Natural Carbon Capture scheme

Are you a business? Discover how you can fund the North West’s degraded mosses back to health while balancing out your CO2 emissions.

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A reintroduced large heath butterfly after release

The large heath butterfly is one of the species we're reintroducing in the Great Manchester Wetlands. Photo: Steve Rawlins - Chester Zoo

Large heath butterfly reintroduction

The large heath butterfly (also known as the Manchester argus) has been locally extinct in it's home city for 150 years. But we're bringing it back to the Manchester mosses.

Find out more

Take a closer look at our mossland sites

Together we can protect our mosslands for wildlife, for people; for everyone.

How you can help

Here are just a few ways you can help our mosslands recover...