The Carbon Landscape's hidden heritage is integral to the history of the United Kingdom as a whole.
Saving Hidden Heritage
What is Heritage?
Protecting our heritage involves the management and the retention of places that are steeped in both natural and manmade heritage. These remarkable places, have an important role to play in the protection of the environment, helping to sustain local economies and creating vibrant, proud communities. Well protected heritage places contribute directly to the quality of life within communities and a communities’ identity.
The Manchester Mosses, traditionally cut for peat to be used for heating, and horticulture (please remember there are peat free alternatives!), are heritage features in their own right. The various species of sphagnum, grasses, plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals that once roamed these vast open landscapes, we’re a true wonder to behold and contributed to the extensive ecosystems throughout.
The huge amount of peat cutting that occurred, and the spreading of night soil - a mixture of the spoil from household fires and waste and the contents of the early lavatories - was spread to cover the misunderstood landscape and turn it into agricultural land to feed the growing city populations. These not only disrupted the ecological balance, but also had a detrimental effect on the carbon sinking properties of the landscape. Only now, is balance beginning to be restored, through restoration projects and the educations and inclusion of local communities on their local landscape. With vegetative species beginning to be reintroduced through a variety of restoration projects throughout the Great Manchester Wetlands these industrialised areas are becoming plentifully rich in species once again.
History and Wildlife
Many of the historic features from our pioneering industrial age can be seen dotted throughout our Carbon Landscape. For instance, the floating railway, a revolutionary infrastructure like Chat Moss, or travel down the length of the Bridgewater Canal through Wigan, Warrington and Salford, the first canal in Britain to be built without following an existing watercourse. Or why don’t you Look a bit deeper and you’ll find post-ice age trees dug up from peat extraction in Salford and diverse wetlands created from subsidence after the prolific mining and brick making industries.
Our incredible pioneering achievements have had a huge negative impact on the natural roadways of our wildlife, as much of our fauna do not live in one place, and require the room to migrate and travel between populations for optimum genetic distributions. Just like us, wild animals need corridors to move between urban obstacles, to feed, breed and disperse. Although our landscape boasts rare species like; Bitterns, Willow Tits, Adders, Great Crested Newts and Water voles, the landscape has great threats to their survival. There is insufficient reed bed to enable Bitterns to breed, Willow Tit populations are fragile and require urgent management of scrub and wet woodland habitats, and Great Crested Newt populations are isolated by physical barriers for aquatic species migrations.
Our heritage has changed the landscape drastically. Formerly innovative transport systems now provide barriers to the wild animals that need to move through our environment. Peat and clay extraction, early farming techniques, and war time factories have damaged and reduced fragile wildlife habitats.