A FIVE-year project to save plants on Hatfield Moor has been completed - with experts hoping it has solved problems.
The Environment Agency has been working on the moors along with Natural England and other partners since June 2006 to try stop plants from disappearing. The overall cost of the scheme has been estimated at around £160,000.
Hatfield Moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and officials from the agency say when the project started in June 2006 the moors were in an ‘unfavourable’ condition because of peat extraction carried out since the 1800s at the site.
This meant there was not enough water on the site, water quality was poor and natural plants were disappearing.
After initial studies of water levels in the area, staff at the agency cleared ditches and restored the site by creating compartments, with peat bunds, so that water could be carefully controlled.
Now they say the work has encouraged the growth of peat-forming bog species such as sphagnum mosses and cotton grasses.
The boundary of the area designated as one of special scientific interest was also changed to allow the moor to retain more water, while doing work to allowing surrounding farmland to drain properly.
The project involved the Environment Agency, Natural England, Internal Drainage Board, Landowners and local residents.
Environment Agency flood risk manager Innes Thomson said: “This is an excellent example of how working with local partners can lead to significant improvements in the environment, in harmony with existing land and water management practices in the area.”
Tim Kohler, land management adviser for Natural England, added: “Hatfield Moors are a valuable asset for the local community and for wildlife.
“The partners’ water control measures will allow bog and wetland plants and animals to re-establish themselves on the Moors, while protecting valuable farmland from flooding.”
Hatfield Moors had been a target for environmentalists until peat-cutting was stopped when the Government bought out horticulture company Scott’s peat extraction rights.
Extraction finally finished in 2000, with the site declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It followed a long campaign by the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Friends of the Earth.