Delamere's Lost Mosses

Mossland (c) Andrew WalmsleyMossland (c) Andrew Walmsley

Formed during the Ice Age, our meres and mosses are among some of the most valuable wildlife habitats we have - and here in Cheshire we want to see them restored to their full glory.

Why Meres and Mosses?

The Meres and Mosses Natural Area (an area of characteristic wildlife and features, as defined by Natural England) holds a fabulous group of wetlands originally created by the actions of ice and since shaped by humans over thousands of years.

From the edges of the Black Country and Telford, north to the Mersey and from the potteries to the Welsh Marches, the Meres and Mosses landscape is as ecologically important to Britain as the Norfolk Broads and Lake District. There are over 200 meres and mosses (pools and bogs) and 13,000 ha of peat deposits. A measure of its global importance is the designation of over 2,000 hectares of the Natural Area as Ramsar sites -those of the highest international importance.

Why do they need protecting?

Restoration of Delamere’s meres and mosses is an important 'landscape scale' project to help improve this area of wetlands. In the 1947 post-war Government report on the Conservation of Nature in England, the Delamere Forest landscape was included on the list of areas of 'outstanding national value for landscape and scenic beauty; the provision of rural amenities; scientific importance and the facilities that can be provided for the enjoyment, recreation and education of the public'.

However, in recent years the quality of many of the meres and mosses habitats has degraded, limited its value to the often specialised wildlife that makes a home there.

What's the plan?

The Delamere’s Lost Mosses Project is the first step towards establishing a Delamere wetland Living Landscape called ‘Delamere Sandscape’.

We want to focus on the core and 'stepping stone' sites featuring existing or degraded transition mire and quaking bog habitat. We also want to restore and establish 'favourable condition' of other mossland habitats as well as taking forward opportunities for lowland heathland and acid grassland creation between the sites (such as those in and around local quarries). Historically, as part of the former Royal Hunting Forest, the Delamere landscape is thought to have featured significant mosaic areas of heath, scrub and acid grassland interspersed with wet basin mires - all habitats that have seen a sharp decline across Britain in recent decades.

Who will benefit?

White-faced darter dragonfly (Leucorrhinia dubia)

Still the emblem of Delamere Forest to this day, the white-faced darter was once a regular sight in the meres and mosses of Delamere, but was last seen in the wild there in 2003. Outside of the Scottish highlands it is extremely rare due to the loss of its lowland acidic bog pool habitat. In 2012, an action plan was created to outline the requirements of a re-introduction to Delamere Forest and after a successful trial, a reintroduction programme has begun. The white-faced darter will benefit from the improvements to the meres and mosses in Delamere, helping secure its future in the landscape.

Can I get involved?

Yes you can! There are numerous volunteering opportunities within the project, please contact Kevin Feeney on 01948 820728 or e-mail to find out what's going on.

Want to know more?