Restoring blanket bog-dominated peatland

Dr Phil Putwain organised an event on 30th July at RSPB Dove Stone on behalf of CIEEM ERHC-SIG and CIEEM North-west member network.

RSPB-United Utilities’ Dove Stone Partnership began in 2010, building on the work of UU’ Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP 2005-2010). It is a partnership between a water company and a conservation charity with shared aims to improve the site for biodiversity, water quality and people. 

The 4,000ha site, in the north-west of the Peak District National Park includes 2,500ha of peatland and a fringe of heath and grassland. It is of European importance, part of the South Pennine Moors SPA/SAC, with designated features including blanket bog and associated moorland habitat and birds like Golden Plover, Curlew, Dunlin and Short-eared Owl.

An enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of professional ecologists undertook a 5 hour walk up onto the blanket bog plateau looking at a range of peatland restoration work, including re-vegetating bare peat, raising water tables and reducing erosion by a number of techniques (stone, heather and plastic piling dams). We also examined the Sphagnum restoration process, bringing back this important component of blanket bog. Formerly eroding peatland has begun to become a wetland again. We discussed the benefits that this can bring for a number of eco-system services. We discussed wildfire risk and mitigation, and the opportunities and challenges that conservation and wider upland land management might face in the future.


June 2019

Extensive habitat survey of land in Wirral

Ecological Restoration Solutions has been undertaking an extensive Phase 1 Habitiat Survey over more than 100ha of farmland in Wirral.

Many old field boundaries and ponds (previously Marl Pits) that are shown on 1840's Tithe Maps are still in evidence today.


The old field boundaries comprise : woody species - rich hedgerows containing lage mature pedunculate oaks some of which score highly suitable bat roosts.   Native Bluebell was recorded as common in some hedgerows and small broadleaved woodland.

This turned out to have been a very enlightening rediscovery of hidden areas in Wirral. 


March 2019


Ecological Restoration Solutions has recently undertaken a survey of two contrasting areas of land adjacent to an industrial site. The aim was to determine the potential soil contamination by inorganic and organic chemical toxins. Twenty eight soil samples were collected and subsequently analysed by a UKAS accredited laboratory for a suite of phytotoxic and zootoxic metals and the metalloid arsenic and also a range of potential organic contaminants including the list of EPA 16 PAH’s and extractable petroleum hydrocarbons. The two areas of land were uncontaminated (usually well below upper threshold values) with respect to all metals and organic compounds tested.


February 2019

Restoration strategy for raised bog

Ecological Restoration Solutions  completed a preliminary restoration strategy for possible restoration of a severely degraded raised bog at a development site located near Alsager, Cheshire.

Some degraded peat bogs are capable of natural regeneration in situations where the hydrology can be repaired and where, with appropriate rehabilitation management, there is a reasonable probability of re-establishing vegetation with peat-forming capability.
The main aim of restoration of raised bog/mire will be to reinstate an ecologically functioning peatland habitat that will benefit biodiversity, and create a functioning carbon sink.

A site assessment was undertaken during November 2018.


CIEEM Conference 2018

Dr Phil Putwain gave a presentation at the CIEEM Autumn Conference ‘Advances in Ecological Restoration and Habitat Creation’, Glasgow, 20-21 November 2018. The title of the talk was

 ‘Sustainable habitat creation utilising soil profile inversion: evidence from case studies’.   Taking an ‘upside down approach for habitat creation’ is a novel approach for habitat creation.

A significant problem for attempts to create or re-create species-rich grassland and lowland heathland is high soil fertility. The key constraint for sustainable habitat creation is often an excessively high concentration of mineral phosphate. The importation of low fertility mineral materials or stripping and removing topsoil are historical techniques that were used to create suitable soil chemistry for habitat creation.
An alternative approach is to use soil profile inversion. This involves using a forestry mouldboard plough that inverts up to 1 metre of soil, bringing up infertile subsoil.  Two case studies are described and assessed which involved;
  • Creation of lowland heathland on farmland in Shropshire, safeguarding the last population of the silver-studded blue butterfly in the English Midlands.
  • Creation of plant and insect species-rich meadow grassland at Ness Botanic Gardens in Cheshire.
The Powerpoint presentation given by Phil Putwain can be viewed as a pdf. Please click    HERE



Ness Gardens Meadow - Autumn Update

The story of the butterfly and bee meadow at Ness Botanic Gardens was published in the Newsletter of the Cheshire and Wirral Branch of the Butterfly Conservation (Cheshire and Wirral Argus, Issue 99, Autumn 2018). 

Over a period of 10 years a species-rich meadow was created on an area of relatively fertile grassland which was ploughed to of a depth up to one metre bringing infertile subsoil to the surface.

To view a copy of the  PDF article in the Cheshire and Wirral Argus  click here.

Restoring blanket bog-dominated peatland

Dr Phil Putwain organised an event on 30th July at RSPB Dove Stone on behalf of CIEEM ERHC-SIG and CIEEM North-west member network. RSPB-Uni...