Great Manchester Wetlands

Great Manchester WetlandsGreat Manchester Wetlands

99% of the North West's mosslands have been destroyed. We are determined to save the rest.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside ; Cheshire Wildlife Trust

The Great Manchester Wetlands is an ambitious scheme focusing on the wetlands of Wigan (see Wigan Flashes Wetland Restoration) and the mosslands of Chat Moss and Risley Moss to the west and southwest of Manchester.

Mosslands (upland blanket bog and lowland raised bog) are a fantastic wildlife habitat - hotspots for a wide range of unique and rare species. They once covered large areas of this region but today, 99% of the resource has been destroyed with only 300 hectares of intact habitat remaining.

This scheme is protecting the remaining habitats in the North West from being destroyed by peat extraction for horticulture; drainage and conversion to agriculture; forestry and development.  By purchasing key mossland sites, we can restore them to a healthy Living Landscape that will benefit both people and wildlife. 

What's happening?

Work to date has made enormous progress in repairing the ravages of the past and protecting threatened habitats. There are now real opportunities to integrate these wetland sites into one unified Living Landscape, improving the quality of individual sites, providing stepping stones between sites, creating or enhancing new sites and providing wildlife corridors.

A number of sites including Abram Flash, Lightshaw Meadows, Little Woolden Moss and Cadishead Moss have been taken into management.

Restoring mosslands is a long process with many different stages. Activities can vary depending on the time of year. The summer months are kept very busy carrying out surveys, looking at various species of animals and plants on site, and getting to grips with the complicated hydrology that keeps the bogs wet.

Many of the Trust's sites are former peat extraction sites, which have been stripped of all vegetation and layers of peat have been removed for horticultural use. A major part of restoring a mossland once the Trust has acquired the site is to "re-wet" the bog. This involves monitoring water levels, ditch blocking and creating bunding, a peat barrier to stop the rainwater running off into agricultural drains.

Start date: 2012

Scheme area: 40,000 hectares

Trust reserves within the scheme

Abram Flash, Astley Moss, Cadishead Moss, Lightshaw Meadows, Little Woolden Moss, Gathurst Wharves, Wigan Flashes (all managed by Lancs WT); Holcroft Moss (Cheshire WT)

This scheme is helping species including...

Bittern, Yellow Wagtail, Willow Tit, and Water Vole

This scheme is also...

Helping species adapt to climate change, storing carbon (the Chat Moss area alone holds a minimum of 9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent as peat), improving water quality, improving access for people, providing health benefits and opportunities for recreation and skills training.


Forestry Commission, United Utilities, Red Rose Forest, Groundwork, British Waterways, Highways Commission, Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, Wigan LCT, RSPB, local authorities, local landowners

To find out more

Email: | Tel: 01772 324129 | Mosslands

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