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Bog restoration completed early

11 August 09 08:00 GMT

A £700,000 project to restore an ancient bogland landscape in the north of England has been completed almost two years ahead of schedule.

The Border Mires, which straddles Cumbria and Northumberland, was formed after the Ice Age and is one of the UK's most important wetland habitats.

However, large areas were lost when a forest was planted to build up timber reserves after World War II.

More than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of peat bog has now been reinstated.

The work involved felling about 800,000 conifers and blocking 15 km (9.3 miles) of drains to re-wet the land.

Gradually heal

It took three years and was carried out by the Forestry Commission, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumberland National Park, Natural England, Newcastle University.

The RAF, which uses nearby Spadeadam Forest as a "warfare tactics facility", halted operations in the area for the duration of the project.

It is hoped that the scheme will boost vegetation such as bog asphodel and sphagnum mosses, as well as attract wildlife including wading birds and dragonflies.

Neville Geddes, from the Forestry Commission, said: "Most of the critical work has been done and the bogs will gradually heal over hundreds of years, laying down new peat and supporting ever more flourishing colonies of bog plants and insects.

"We get dazzled by the wonders of the rainforest and marvellous ancient woodlands.

"But while bogs may lack the same visual impact, in many ways they are an even more endangered and fragile habitat."

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