Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Frontman in Battle to Save Ancient Bogs; Environment Editor Tony Henderson Talks to the Naturalist Who Cleared the Way for a Wetland Revival

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Frontman in Battle to Save Ancient Bogs; Environment Editor Tony Henderson Talks to the Naturalist Who Cleared the Way for a Wetland Revival

Article excerpt

AS a student more than 50 years ago, Angus Lunn found himself in the front line of a struggle to save what would be recognised as a wetland of world importance.

Earlier this week, The Journal reported how pounds 700,000 in Government funding has speeded up the restoration of 2,500 acres of the Border Mires - ancient peat bogs which straddle Northumberland and Cumbria.

Drainage and conifer planting had damaged, and in some cases destroyed, areas of the wetland, with its special eco-system and climate change role as a massive carbon store.

Now, in the last three years, 800,000 conifers have been felled and dams inserted in 15km of drainage ditches.

Few people will be more pleased than Angus Lunn, who lives in Heddon on the Wall in Northumberland and also has a small farm near Alston in Cumbria.

Angus, a lifetime naturalist, uncovered the full extent of the Border Mires in the 1950s as he mapped vegetation in Northumberland as part of his PhD studies at King's College, which was to become Newcastle University.

The mires, now a site of international designations, was then virtually unknown.

"A few local farmers knew about the mires but generally people didn't know they were there. Nobody had ever surveyed them properly," says Angus.

"Kielder Forest was still being planted and I watched giant machines ripping into the bogs to make drains, even as I surveyed them.

"Some of the bogs had been planted with trees, some were being planted and more were going to be planted.

"At the time, I didn't know how unique the mires' eco-systems were. It was only later I realised how important they were."

Angus, as befits a discoverer, named many of the mire sites - Felecia Moss, Hummel Knowe Moss, The Wou, Falstone Moss, Gowany Knowe Moss, Haining Head Moss and Hobbs Flow. …

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