Mayor was captivated by mosslands
GREATER Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham paid a visit to our mosslands and didn’t want to leave.
To be honest it was a warm, late summer day and Little Woolden and Cadishead mosses were looking resplendent.
The Mayor was already a big fan of the work we are doing on the mosslands of Salford, Wigan and Warrington and asked lots of questions about how the future will pan out on these wildernesses, just half a mile from millions of people.
He was joined by other mosslands fans – Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett and his colleague Coun Derek Antrobus – as well as newcomers Alex Ganotis, leader of Stockport council and Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council.
A fine bunch of VIPs rubbing shoulders with the bog bush crickets, brown hares and peregrines that we regularly see here.
They also got to see some of the tufts of common cotton-grass that are still speckling across the green and black of the peat landscape.
These fluffy cotton wool balls on top of green stems are, of course, the official flower of Manchester. Earlier in summer the two Salford mosses and nearby Astley Moss looked like white carpets of fluff and there were lots of these plants up on the moors around the North West too.
There is something comforting about seeing cotton-grass on the landscape. A bit like being wrapped up in a lovely warm blanket.
Historically, common cotton-grass was used to stuff pillows in Sussex. It was also collected and used in Scotland to dress wounds during the First World War.
Cotton-grass on the moss has two varieties, the common variety with five to seven flower spikes and hare’s tail which has just one, like a lone white flag flapping in the breeze. Hare’s tail is a great foodplant for rare butterflies, like the large heath, which may be making its way back to our mosslands in the near future.
All this takes a lot of hard work by our staff and volunteers. More than 97 per cent of the peat was extracted from our mosslands over the past 100 years.
Peat which took more than 10,000 years to form.
Now we have just enough to create landscapes similar to those ancient mosses with cotton-grass and lush green carpets of sphagnum moss stretching for more than 100 hectares.
Getting some of the top decision makers down to Little Woolden Moss is a huge boost for our work and for the wildlife that inhabits these areas.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester was keen to stay on the moss longer than his busy diary would allow.
He is welcome to come back any time. »●To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070.
●●Cotton grass and (inset) Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham on his visit to Little Woolden Moss