THERE is a lot happening on Crompton Moor and the same questions keep being asked.
Why are you removing trees from some areas and then planting more trees in different areas?
Why can’t you just leave the trees to grow naturally?
Why are you planting moss when there’s lots of moss around?
Many think moorland and heathland is a natural environment which, if left alone, would remain the same.
However, Crompton Moor is made up of both moorland and heath and needs to be managed to preserve it.
Heaths were originally created or expanded by centuries of human clearance of natural forest and woodland vegetation by grazing and burning.
In the 21st century, landscapes totally untouched by human activity no longer exist.
Crompton Moor is the product of human activities and if neglected will all turn to woodland.
What exists now is a mix of heath and woodlands which together are providing biodiversity of flora and fauna.
So, trees are being removed from the heathland areas to stop the natural succession of scrub and woodland development.
Conifer woodlands provide much less diversity for wildlife than native broadleaf and the majority need to be removed sensitively over time and replaced with native trees such as oak, hornbeam, hazel, alder, rowan, willow and Scots pine.
Larch and Corsican pine will make up most of the coniferous trees to be removed. This is because of the need for thinning, to let in more light and the two tree diseases, phytophthora ramorum and dothistroma needle blight.
Native broadleaf trees are being planted around the edges of the woodlands, already in situ, as an enhanced woodland edge provides many important habitat functions for a diversity of wildlife.
Planting ‘more moss’ is to combat flooding. Crompton Moor is a 76-hectare site which rises to an elevation of 391 metres. Sphagnum moss can hold up to 26 times its own weight in water.
With support from the Environment Agency’s Peatland Restoration Fund and partners – Moors for The Future; Friends of Crompton Moor, and Oldham MBC, – City of Trees are restoring sections of the moor by planting sphagnum moss in a bid to use the vegetation to store water and to soak into the peat to reduce the impact of flooding.
Members of the community are getting involved in the planting, as well as children from Buckstones and St George’s Primary schools.
This helps increase the understanding of the moor’s importance in safeguarding the local community as well as acting as a haven for wildlife.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “This regeneration project on Crompton Moor is a great example of how protecting peatlands and restoring natural Sphagnum species plant species will not only have huge environmental benefits but also provide a home for wildlife and greater protection against flood risk for the community.
“We are looking forward to continuing our work with City of Trees and expanding peatland restoration across the whole of Greater Manchester.”