For Peat's Sake

By Wheat, Sue | Geographical, August 1999 | Go to article overview

For Peat's Sake


Wheat, Sue, Geographical


Sue Wheat reports on how a lowland raised peatbog is the subject of fierce campaigning by conservationists who are concerned that the peat extraction process is destroying the `rainforests' of the UK

SO WHAT'S HAPPENING ON HATFIELD MOOR?" I asked amateur naturalist, Helen Kirk on the telephone, before my visit to the lowland raised mire, lying close to the town of Doncaster in the north of England. "Rape and pillage," came Helen's reply. "It sounds dramatic but that's what it is." Hatfield Moor had been the playground of Kirk's youth and her research-field and personal haven in later life. Over the last decade, she has watched as the moor has been largely destroyed by industrial peat extraction. Located within the Humberhead Levels, Hatfield Moor comprises around 1,200 hectares, which, with its neighbour Thorne Moor, make up a total of 3,000 hectares of peatland. They consist of the remnants of an extensive complex of lowland raised mires which started to develop around 4,500 years ago. Also referred to as `quaking bogs' because the waterlogged peat shudders underfoot, they have formed since the last glaciation through dead plant and animal remains building up in shallow lakes, or when land has become sodden with decomposing sphagnum mosses retaining vast quantities of water. Covered by a thin layer of moss and grasses they are beautiful as well as environmentally precious. Thorne and Hatfield are now the two largest surviving lowland raised peatbogs in England.

Britain's peatlands are gradually becoming a new cause celebre. Prince Charles has described them as "our nation's tropical rainforests", so great is their ecological importance, acting as `global coolers' by removing carbon from the atmosphere, and harbouring a unique biodiversity of plant and animal life. But since 1945,96 per cent of the UK's lowland raised bogs have been lost to peat extraction, forestry and agriculture. The Peatland Campaign Consortium (PCC) -- a coalition of over 14 British environmental groups including Friends of the Earth (FOE), the Wildlife Trusts and Geologists Association -- opposes extraction by the peat companies.

Our bog hog and other animals

Both Thorne and Hatfield moors became Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the 1960s and certain parts are proposed as EU `Special Areas of Conservation' under the EU `Habitats Directive' (1992) and qualify as `Ramsar Sites under the Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands of International Importance'. As Hatfield's rare species are under-recorded, it is often seen as a poor relation to Thorne, which has 3,000 species of invertebrates, about 150 of which are nationally scarce or endangered. However, surveys show both are exceptional. For example, approximately 40 churring male nightjars, totalling one per cent of the country's endangered population, were recorded on Hatfield Moor last breeding season making it eligible for an EU `Specific Protected Area' designation. Hatfield also harbours invertebrates found nowhere else in the UK.

Kirk shows me some beautifully-drawn paintings by world renowned entomologist Dr Peter Skidmore. "We call this one `the Thorne Moors beetle' although it's also on Hatfield," she explains. "This is `the hairy canary fly', and this `the bog hog' -- which is tricky to monitor as it's only two millimetres long." Skidmore believes that Hatfield's insect population is significantly different to that of its neighbour Thorne and with one of the richest insect faunas in north England, deserves protection in its own right.

Scientific surveying is done by Kirk and other members of the Thorne and Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum (known as `the Forum') -- a coalition of conservation and scientific institutions such as Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Council of British Archaeology and Doncaster Naturalist Society. "We are naturalists that have been dragged into the campaigning arena," says Kirk.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

For Peat's Sake
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.