South Cumbrian conservationists are celebrating after two nature reserves were given a top award.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been given an award for Best Practice for Large-Scale Nature Conservation following its restoration of Foulshaw Moss and Meathop Moss Nature Reserves near Witherslack.
The award, presented by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environment Management, recognises the highest standards of ecological and environmental management practice.
Foulshaw Moss and Meathop Moss cover 443ha and are the two remaining peat domes of a coastal lowland raised mire system that once stretched seven miles inland.
Wildlife has declined due to 300 years of peripheral peat cutting, agricultural reclamation and drainage.
Conifers have been planted across Foulshaw Moss since 1949 and dense trees invaded 89% of Meathop Moss.
Over the last 15 years Cumbria Wildlife Trust removed trees and rhododendron then restored the hydrology, allowing peat-forming vegetation to recover.
The latest work at the nature reserve has been to create 40 hectares of reed bed and fen which could attract birdlife including bitterns, water rails and reed warblers.
David Harpley, conservation manager for Cumbria Wildlife Trust said, “I’m delighted when we were announced as the winners. The other finalists were the Great Fen project and Kilnsea Wetlands Creation Project in Yorkshire, so we were up against other really great restorations.
“This is a really big deal for us and I need to thank Natural England for all their help and support during the last 19 years it’s taken to restore Foulshaw Moss and Meathop Moss, they’ve never been anything less than 100 per cent helpful, supportive and positive.”
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