Sphagnum moss at Lodge Bog. Picture: Nuala Madigan
Peatland habitats in our communities offer us many services including domestic fuel, a habitat for biodiversity, water regulation, a carbon store and an inspiration to artists and poets.
Before the current Covid-19 Level 5 restrictions were implemented, my colleagues and I gave Lodge Bog a helping hand by completing a sphagnum moss transfer on the reserve, supported by Kildare County Council.
Lodge Bog is an example of a remnant-raised bog habitat. No peat has been extracted from this site as it has been used since the 1970s as an educational resource.
To enable safe access to the reserve, a wooden boardwalk was installed in 2005. Fifteen years later, part of the boardwalk had to be removed due to wear and tear.
The removal of the boardwalk resulted in an area of bare peat being exposed, as over the years the boardwalk limited light access to the plants below. This exposed peat, if left unmanaged, would have been prone to erosion and it would take many years for this area to recover.
Restoration is the act that aims to return the habitat to its original condition. Reviewing the water table measurements recorded in 201,9 it was determined that by transferring Sphagnum moss from a donor site on the reserve to the area affected, it would provide a helping hand to nature and the restoration of the reserve.
Why is Sphagnum moss important? Well, Sphagnum moss is the ‘bog builder’. Growing 1mm a year, it has formed our peatlands to be the wet and wild landscapes we know today. This restoration technique was developed in Canada and under the right conditions, including a water table within 10cm of the surface, the donor site recovers within five years. Therefore, the problem of erosion of the bare peat is minimised while it also encourages the variety of services the peatland offers us all.
To protect against the winter ahead, the area has been covered with straw and for now we will have to wait until next summer to evaluate the transfers success.
If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.