Mayor was cap­ti­vated by moss­lands

Rochdale Observer - - WILDLIFE -

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

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