Delamere Mossland Project contender for Best Practice Award

The CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) have announced that the Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Delamere Living Landscape Project is a finalist in this year’s Best Practice Awards. Shortlisted in the Large-Scale Practical Nature Conservation category, the winner will be announced in June.

Identified as an important area for wildlife, Cheshire Wildlife Trust has worked to deliver nature conservation improvements in partnership with the Forestry Commission, Natural England, WREN’s FCC Biodiversity Action Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, the British Dragonfly Society and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Between 2013 and 2017 Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission restored 110 hectares of mossland habitat and began reintroducing the white-faced darter dragonfly, a species resident in the forest in years gone by. The Trust’s goal is to establish a large and interconnected population of this species by restoring connected pockets of habitat throughout the forest.

The team along with many volunteers have created open corridors between the peat basins, by clearing trees and creating dams in drains and pools to retain water.

“This project has become a large scale examplar of our landscape-scale approach to wetland conservation,” said Charlotte Harris, Chief Executive at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “Before this restoration project many sites were not delivering the ecosystem benefits they could. Scrub-clearance, rewetting and invasive species control has improved important habitat for wildlife and already we are seeing a difference in the species recorded at the sites. It is fantastic that this project has been short-listed for a Best Practice Award.”

Delamere c. Colin Hayes

Delamere c. Colin Hayes

Species associated with healthy bogs have increased and there are now a range of nationally-rare mosses at the sites – as well as one of only five populations of bog myrtle in Cheshire.

Green hairstreak butterflies have been recorded and the presence of a nationally-rare spider, Sitticus floricola, locally known as the Delamere jumping spider, has also been confirmed on two of the sites. Surveys have also revealed the presence of grass snakes and common lizards.

The mossland habitat work also provides wider environmental benefits. Before restoration much of the peat on the sites was drying out causing it to break down and release carbon into the atmosphere. Over 25.5 hectares of peat has now been rewetted, allowing it to store carbon once again and soak up rainwater.

“The creation of corridors and stepping stones is important for the long term ecological sustainability of the project,” said Chris Meredith, Conservation Officer, at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “We have worked alongside the Forestry Commission to improve the habitat for wildlife and people and much of the mossland habitat will now continue to develop naturally. Lessons have also been learnt from the reintroduction programme within Delamere that can benefit similar future reintroduction programmes elsewhere in the UK.”

“The Delamere Mossland Project has given the meres and mosses restoration at Delamere Forest the boost it needed in order to make significant restoration gains. The recognition of the project at a national level is wonderful news” said Adrienne Bennett, Forestry Commission Ecologist.