Astley and Bedford Moss

Description

Astley and Bedford Mosses are situated 14 km west of the centre of Manchester and 4 km south-east of Leigh. The site lies adjacent to the Liverpool to Manchester railway and is bordered on the other sides by agricultural land. It represents one of the largest remaining fragments of Chat Moss, a lowland raised mire some 25 square kilometres in extent, developed over tills and late-glacial flood gravels overlying Triassic sandstones of the Sherwood Sandstones Group.

Most of the original extent of Chat Moss has been drained and reclaimed for agriculture or cut over for peat such that Astley and Bedford Mosses, although also subject in the past to some of these impacts, are higher than the surrounding countryside and still retain a considerable depth of peat.

Biodiversity

The major habitats present are modified mire communities, heathland, woodland and acidic grassland, all developed over the cut peat surface and subject to variations of wetness according to the residual topography or drainage patterns. Existing areas of mire are dominated by common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium and hare’s-tail cottongrass E. vaginatum with occasional deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum. Bog mosses are scarce but Sphagnum cuspidatum, S. recurvum, S. tenellum, S. fimbriatum and S. subnitens occur in patches in the cottongrass, between tussocks of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea or in and alongside some of the ditches.

As the peat becomes increasingly drier, the mire community is replaced by a monospecific sward of purple moor grass in which very few other species are present. Downy birch Betula pubescens also begins to establish with the result that a large proportion of the site exists as a mixture of these two species. This community varies in density from a closed birch woodland to a ‘savannah’-like grassland with occasional trees. Heather Calluna vulgaris, although scattered throughout, also dominates one are a of heathland at the north eastern edge of the site, where cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccus also occurs.

The site is important for birds, in particular wintering raptors such as hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) and merlin (Falco columbarius), and it supports breeding species such as curlew (Numenius arquata) and long-eared owl (Asio otus). Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus), precariously confined to the remnant lowland mosslands in the county, may also breed.

{"zoom":12,"lat":53.4793905,"lon":-2.4700635,"markers":{"0":{"lat":53.4793905,"lon":-2.4700635}}}

Project Name: Astley and Bedford Moss

Organisation / Lead partner: Natural England

Location: Astley, near Manchester

Approximate area covered: 52 ha

Conservation Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Local Wildlife Site

Predominately: Lowland

Peat Habitats: Lowland raised bog

Project Type: Management

Belfast Skyline (c) Visit Belfast
2019 Conference - Ticket Sales Now OpenIUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference 2019 - Peatlands: Investing in the Future 1st - 3rd October…
Richard Payne
A tribute to Richard Payne The IUCN UK Peatlands Programme team were all saddened to hear the shocking news about the death of…
Image of sphagnum in pool © Joe Holden
Sphagnum is a key ingredient of natural flood managementIn 2008 iCASP published research that showed how water running over Sphagnum on blanket peatlands…
Image of V-notch in ply-sheet dam © Emma Shuttleworth
Peat restoration and natural flood managementThe Upland Environments Research Unit at the University of Manchester has been working closely with…
Image of bog vegetation © Dom Hinchley
New edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management HandbookA new edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management Handbook is now available. Conserving Bogs: The…
Rob Stoneman at the House of Commons flanked by Rob Brown and Julian Sturdy
Managing the Uplands for Public Benefit House of Commons ReceptionOver 48 representatives from across the peatland community in the UK as well as MPs and Peers…
Large heath butterfly
Peatland biodiversity - butterflies & mothsAt Butterfly Conservation we understand the great value of healthy functioning peatlands for…
Cover of GHG emissions inventory
Inclusion of peatlands in the UK's GHG emissions inventory publishedThe long-awaited report on inclusion of peatlands in the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions…
Marsden Moor fire © BBC News
Record breaking Spring temperatures exacerbate wildfire outbreaks across the UKThe summer heatwave of 2018 was accompanied by wildfires across the UK with a major incident…
Staff from RSPB, Scottish Water and the contractor, McGowan Ltd, discuss the successful works at Moss of Kinmundy
Ugie Peatland Partnership welcomes restoration of local bogBog restoration works are expected to benefit local water quality and nature, as well as contribute…
Delgates at the policy and practice workshop
New initiative to combine data across studies and sites to better inform peatland policy and practice Researchers, practitioners and policy-makers from across Europe, whose goal is to understand better…