Lowland Raised Bog
Lowland raised bogs characteristically consist of a raised mound of peat above a water table which is fed only by rainfall (as opposed to ground water). As a result they develop a surface vegetation which is adapted to acid, nutrient-poor conditions.
Lowland raised bogs are considered to be a priority for conservation because of their rare and threatened status. In a prime state, lowland raised bogs support a rich assemblage of various bog mosses Sphagnum spp. together with a number of other species which can include cotton-grass Eriophorum spp., sundew Drosera rotundifolia, and bog rosemary Andromeda polifolia. Nationally, raised bogs support a number of uncommon plant and animal species, such as nightjar, the large heath butterfly and the moss Dicranum undulatum.
Intact lowland raised bogs are one of Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats. The area of lowland raised bog in the UK retaining a largely undisturbed surface is estimated to have diminished by around 94% from an original c95 000 ha to c6000 ha in the present day. Historically, the greatest decline has occurred through agricultural intensification, afforestation and commercial peat extraction. Future decline is most likely to be the result of gradual desiccation of bogs damaged by a range of drainage activities and/or a general lowering of groundwater tables.
In the North East Region, relatively intact lowland raised bog is restricted to north of the Tyne. The best examples, Holburn Moss, Ford Moss and Prestwick Carr, are all designated as SSSIs. All three sites have been greatly modified by the actions of man, through drainage and planting with trees. The international importance of Ford Moss has been recognised in its designation as a SAC. In the North East Region the main threat to lowland raised bogs comes from continued drying out and shrinkage of the peat body as a result of past drainage both of the bogs themselves and of adjacent agricultural land. This has been followed, and exacerbated, by scrub and tree encroachment.