Why survey Sphagnum?

Why survey Sphagnum mosses?

We'd like your help to map where Sphagnum is found in our project area - The Peak District and South Pennines.

Sphagnum mosses are hugely important in the uplands due to the unique environments these plants help to create. As Sphagnum plants grow upwards, the lower parts of the plant die but do not decompose very quickly if the ground is waterlogged.

Sphagnum species

This leads to the accumulation of organic material, or peat. This can take place over many thousands of years, with peat becoming several metres deep.  Healthy peatlands have many benefits - from supporting wildlife communities and locking up atmospheric carbon to reducing flood risk and improving water quality.

Unfortunately, many peat bogs - especially in our project area - have become damaged over time because of the effects of air pollution; because peat has been harvested for fuel or for compost; and because land has been dried out through drainage and wildfire.

A lot of work has gone into restoring these degraded peatlands, and the Moors for the Future Partnership are playing an important role in re-introducing Sphagnum to the region. However these mosses now face a new threat from climate change. They are particularly at risk because they suffer damage if they are exposed to temperatures higher than 15°C - and summer temperatures are projected to increase in the future; added to this peat only forms when bogs are saturated - and rainfall patterns are also projected to alter in the future.

We, therefore, want your help to map where Sphagnum mosses are found in our project area. By doing this over many years, we will be able to detect whether we are seeing any changes in how much Sphagnum there is and the types of places it is growing in. Your information will help inform future conservation efforts to protect these plants and the habitats they are associated with.

How can I get involved?

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