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Major 'trans-plant' for Peak District moors

This is an archived press release

Monday 14 November 2005

14 November 2005

Major 'trans-plant' for Peak District moors

A major 'trans-plant' operation will get under way next Spring to move more than 100,000 young plants to a new home on the Peak District moors.

The plants are currently being cultivated in matching soils as part of a pilot scheme by the Moors for the Future project to help restore one of the world's rarest habitats - damaged by erosion, pollution, fires and over-grazing.

The 100,000 young cloudberry, bilberry, crowberry and cotton grass shoots have been selected to become 'mother' plants for a new generation to help stabilise the most damaged areas - including Bleaklow, Black Hill and Kinder Scout.

Moors for the Future commissioned soil scientists (Envar) and horticulturalists (Specimen Trees and Micropropagation Services) to develop the propagation and understanding of these moorland plants. Previous work on the Brecon Beacons National Park had looked at similar environmental problems.

Plant material was collected from sites within the Dark Peak Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the plants are currently being weaned in preparation for their final transport back to the moors next spring.

Success depends on getting the plants to grow quickly so special care has been taken to exactly match the soils of the young plants to the new environment. Close study of these unusual moorland plants has shown complex relationships with soil fungi that they need in order to survive the harsh environment. The young plants will already have the benefit of these fungal associations in place when they are planted out.

The plants will be used to help the revegetation of various moorland areas damaged by fire across the Dark Peak, and will also be used on the sides of paths which have been recently restored. The plants will help knit the soil together and prevent further erosion to these fragile areas.

A pilot project is being undertaken on Bleaklow to ascertain the best locations (aspect, gully, slope etc) for the various species. Conservation Works Manager, Matt Buckler, explained, "We are pleased to have funded this trial which will enable us to ensure that we are using the plants in the best way in the future. They will aid our restoration work on 300 hectares of moorland and 19 km of paths. The planting of the trial plants from the plant propagation project took place in July and early results are promising."

Local volunteer groups have also played their part, they have germinated and grown a further 12,500 cotton grass plants since June 2005. Planting is being planned for spring 2006.

This is an archived press release

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