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Threats to Exmoor's blanket bog

image depicting Aerial view of re-wetted peat cuttings at Blackpitts
Aerial view of re-wetted peat cuttings at Blackpitts

Peatland habitats are sensitive to climatic change and hydrological disturbance and the blanket mires on Exmoor are at the forefront of this change due to their south-westerly position.

In addition, centuries of moorland reclamation, agricultural drainage and domestic peat-cutting has modified the habitat and dried out the peat.

As a result it has lost many of the interesting plants, animals and birds associated with wet peatlands and become dominated by moorland grasses.

As future climate change is likely to increase the drying effect on damaged peatlands in the South West of England, positive engagement with all the moorland stakeholders in the restoration planning is essential.

The failure to re-wet these damaged areas could lead to further degradation and  loss of SSSI wetland habitat and associated species. Other risks include  degradation of the peat and loss of carbon into the atmosphere, drying out of archaeology and palaeo-ecology on the moors, and damage to moorland river hydrology and ecology. This bring associated problems of erosion, drying out in summer, flooding, and loss of key species and diversity.

Partnership initiative of the year 2012

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