Funding Secured to Revive Rare Habitat

(c) Nigel Balding
Ellie Sherlock

A globally rare and pre-historic habitat will be bought back to life in Warrington, with £33,000 funding.


Pestfurlong Moss is a rare fragment of 10,000-year-old lowland raised peat bog. Internationally important, lowland raised peat bogs are capable of supporting key species such as common lizard, brown hare and black darter dragonflies.


It is part of the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area and the Carbon Landscape, and the funding comes from Enovert Landfill and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Pestfurlong moss is owned by The Woodland Trust and is currently managed with help from community volunteer group, ‘The Friends of Gorse Covert Mound’. Carbon Landscape will now support bringing the moss back to it’s former glory with the new funding in place.


The location of Pestfurlong moss makes it extremely valuable for wildlife, linking larger nearby mosslands; Risley Moss to the West and Holcroft Moss to the east. By joining up these habitats, The Carbon Landscape Partnership is creating ‘green motorways’ which are vital to a number of important and rare species including the willow tit, the UKs fastest declining small bird, and water vole, Britain’s fastest declining mammal.


Peatlands such as Pestfurlong moss, are also exceptional buffers against the effects of climate change, locking away more carbon than all the forests of the UK, Germany and France combined and preventing flooding by soaking up water during high periods of rainfall. Re-wetting of peat bogs also greatly reduce the risks of fires, such as those that recently devastated Saddleworth Moors.


A staggering 80% of UK peatlands have been degraded or lost due to drainage for agriculture, extraction or development. The Carbon Landscape Partnership, led by Lancashire Wildlife Trust will oversee the revival of Pestfurlong moss alongside 22 other interlinked projects delivered across Wigan, Warrington and Salford.


"Securing the funding through Enovert and the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us the chance to restore this rare fragment of ancient habitat.  This will not only benefit our environment but also enhance the wetland corridor of the North West, helping unique mossland wildlife move around our landscape", Tony Da Silva, Carbon Landscape Restoration Officer.


Despite having been drained in the past, Pestfurlong moss has retained some of its rare and vital bog species, including bog bush crickets and four species of sphagnum moss which are the main building blocks of peat. Without management the site will continue to dry out and be chocked by unwanted and invasive species, resulting in irreversible damage to the peat itself.


Securing this funding is excellent news for wildlife and communities alike and work is already underway to restore this special site.