Restoring Marsden Moor

Rangers out on patrol on Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

We ensure the future of Marsden Moor by preserving it in many different ways. From gully blocking to plug planting learn about our work at this special place.

Gully blocking

Gully blocking is a technique which helps to slow the flow of water off the moors, trapping sediment and keeping the moors wetter for longer. Dams can be made out of stone, plastic, wood, coir logs or heather bales depending on the location and gully conditions. Re-wetting the moors should help prevent peat drying out and create better conditions for some of the important moorland plants and wildlife.

Plug planting

Areas of bare peat are very susceptible to drying out and erosion by wind and water, causing peat to be lost from the moors. Planting moorland 'plug plants' is one way to help reduce this by re-vegetating bare peat with moorland plants such as cotton grass, bilberry and heather. The plug plants (small, young plants) are carried out on to the moors in trays and planted individually by hand using a tool called a dibber. The plants will hopefully grow and develop strong root system, helping to stabilise the peat and protect the ground surface.

Heather brash

Heather brash, or cut heather, is used to help stabilise areas of bare peat. The brash is cut from local moorlands and airlifted on to site in white builder’s bags. Once out on site it is then spread by hand in a thin layer over areas of bare peat. This has many purposes: protecting the surface from erosion, introducing heather seed onto the bare peat and providing a micro-climate that encourages vegetation growth.

Lime, seed & fertiliser

Although moorlands are naturally acidic some areas of the Peak District moorlands have been shown to have a pH similar to lemon juice, which is too acidic for even moorland plants to thrive. This is addressed by applying lime to help increase the pH to about 4, creating better conditions for moorland plants to grow. These areas are then treated with fertiliser and amenity grass seed, which grows quickly and helps stabilise areas of bare peat, providing better conditions for native moorland species to develop and establish.