Delamere's wetlands will be restored to their former state
Lost wetlands in Delamere Forest that have lain dry for up to 80 years are to be restored by the Forestry Commission.
The meres and mosses on the Cheshire estate have been hidden beneath soil and trees since the forest was established in the early 1900s.
The project, focusing on four key sites will aim to recover 2000 hectares of wetland over the next two years by raising water levels.
The first stage of the work is expected to be complete by March 2011.
Delamere is an internationally renowned wetland site, the forest area near Northwich is made up of more than 100 peatland basins, including the unusual quaking bog sites known as 'schwingmoor'.
Schwingmoor is a German word that describes swinging moorland and refers to the sensation of walking on peat bogs which are made of layers of vegetation floating on a body of water.
Many of the basin peat lands were lost when the forest was established in the early 1900s.
Blakemere Moss within the forest was restored in the late 1990s and has since become a thriving wildlife habitat and is a popular location for bird studies.
Work on removing conifers and installing dams in the forest area has already begun with the first stage expected to be complete by March 2011.
"We're enhancing the environment by returning the land to its natural former state," explains Oliver Thompson, the Forestry Commission Wildlife Ranger at Delamere.
"It used to be much wetter here and by restoring the meres and mosses, rare plants and other associated wildlife will be able to thrive once more.
"Visitors will be able to see the work as it happens and we'll be putting up four special interpretative boards explaining exactly what is going on.
"We want people to know it's not just a boggy area, it 's an important conservation site that without this important work would be lost forever."
Once the wetlands are restored the Forestry Commission hope that a range of rare species will make them there home including diving beetles, white faced darter butterflies and great crested newts.
Many wetlands are under threat of development, their location in mainly lowland areas makes them particularly vulnerable, but they add to the countryside's ability to retain water and so can reduce the risk of flooding.