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Friday, 31 October 2014

Totley scrub clearance

This week the wardens have been removing scrub from the mire habitat on Totley Moss.

Silver birch are wonderful trees and very characteristic of the Eastern Moors - we have lots of them! However we have been removing a small number of self seeded silver birch scrub from the south-west corner of Totley Moss, which is mire habitat. This is to allow species more typical of mire such as sphagnum mosses, cotton grass, cranberry and cross-leaved heath to increase and is part of other works such as ditch blocking to promote re-wetting of the area - i.e. getting it nice and boggy! The trees currently obstruct this by drying out the ground, and when they are removed the wetter conditions should stop them returning, but this will need to be monitored with potential follow up work to remove any young scrub that returns. There are also several stands of willow, but these will be left as they support a lot more birds and invertebrates and are less likely than birch to spread across the mire.
Shane surrounded by birch:

As you can see the terrain was pretty rough and boggy, so it was hard work traipsing across with chainsaws and all our kit. Some of the trees were densely packed but a lot were very widely spread which meant a long trek between each tree. To help us get around and thereby reduce the time spent on the job we had the help of this machine and Buddy, its expert driver:

It's called an Argocat and is specially designed for traversing wet, boggy ground - it has very low ground pressure so doesn't get stuck or damage the terrain. Apparently you can drive it into a lake and it will float but none have us have dared to do that yet!

Kim at work:


After, you can see the patches of willow that remain:

We managed to get it all done in two days which was faster than we thought. Hopefully now the mire can start to develop into a soggy paradise.

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