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Biodiversity gets a boost at one of England’s oldest nature reserves

One of England’s oldest nature reserves is set for an increase in biodiversity as local fauna is reintroduced and wild flora is increased.

Natural England has started work to increase biodiversity on additional land at Wybunbury Moss in Cheshire, following the Church Commissioners for England agreeing to lease two fields of nearly 15 acres in an effort to protect moss lands and restore the fields to a ‘more natural state’.

The site covers an area of approximately 16.5hain total and “supports an outstanding collection of invertebrates, including many nationally and locally rare species,” says Natural England senior reserve manager, Paul Shires.

Plans include reintroducing grazing livestock and several species of insect, including two rare spiders and a leaf beetle not found anywhere else in the country, and increasing the diversity of grass and wildflower species.

“Wybunbury Moss is a nationally-important site as it is one of the finest examples in the country of a schwingmoor, or floating bog.”

Ice movement and erosion caused the wet hollows to become vegetated with mosses and over the course of thousands of years a thick layer of peat has built up to create a floating raft of peat on an underground lake, one of only three examples in the UK known to have formed this way.

The peat raft is carpeted with sphagnum moss and cotton sedge, cranberry, bog rosemary, white beaked and insect-eating sundew.

“This new agreement will help us to protect the moss from high levels of nutrients, which have a serious negative effect on the site’s flora and fauna.”

The site was first designated in 1955, with further land acquisitions added to the area between 1957 and 2009.

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