• Mikael Trewick

ELMsolutions Limited Winter works

During this winter, ELMsolutions have continued to provide fantastic land management solutions with consideration to challenges that the tiers, Lockdowns and uncertainty we have faced in this pandemic. Completing works in challenging weather, on Upland and Lowland habitats across the North and Midlands of England.

In October we planted 80,000 Lab Grown Sphagnum plugs on Thorne Moors, part of the wider Humberhead Peatlands NNR, the second time we have planted on this site as part of a trial to re-establish sphagnum moss on this lowland habitat type. Revisiting last years site, and seeing a 25% growth rate, It was encouraging to see the effectiveness. In this particular contract, the density was higher than that of upland moors, this will speed up the overall cover in a faster timeframe.

Then it was onto Snailsden, This work had been affected by the first lockdown, so It was a good opportunity to see how well our previous plugs had adapted, finish a job, and get our eye in for the upland method of planting.

Next, the team headed up to Ilkley Moor, planting 70,000 Sphagnum plugs for Moors For The future. This is predominantly to increase the biodiversity of the moor, retain water and to lock in carbon dioxide as the moorland develops. We had a diverse range of weathers, firmly testing the team, and even made it into the local paper after the Friends of Ilkley moor bravely sought us out in thick fog to see the works! You can read it here: https://www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk/news/18897490.critical-bog-building-moss-planted-ilkley-moor/

Following our initial planting on Ilkley, we had a break completing works on a small nature reserve at Stoke Bardolph Sewage Treatment works near Nottingham, Installing boardwalks, footpaths, thinning woodland, creating and reinstating ponds and increasing the grassland capacity of the site.

The year 2020 finished back where the season began, on Thorne Moors NNR, Thinning a lowland peat compartment of silver birch to assist with the regeneration of the areas hydrology, in time, this will improve the habitat, through wet Carr woodland and heath mix, to a more traditional Lowland peat ecology. This contract was completed in early 2021 with areas of the site being chipped to reduce the fire risks, but with the consistently wet weather, and to the credit of the management of water levels, areas were too wet to access, so we completed by windrowing the waste, creating a further habitat for invertebrates.

In the previous weeks, we moved again to Scotter, in Lincolnshire, where clearing willow regeneration from around ponds and chipping the arisings for Forestry England gave the team yet more experience on a different habitat type. Being the second time myself and Gareth had worked on the site, The first being January 2020, it was great to see the positive changes that had come about from the very cold works we undertook. Thankfully, this year, The ponds were free of Ice, and the water levels lower.

Throughout our land management works, Gareth has been using our Greenclimber remote controlled slope mower, fitted with a Mulcher head on sites such as Dovestones and Snailsden to cut fire breaks in the moorland dominating Purple Moor Grass. This will improve the resilience of the uplands to wildfire. Obviously, we and the many teams and organisations working hard to improve these habitats would love for these fires not to happen, for more information on how you can prevent, and how to report these fires, please take a moment to read the advice here: https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/looking-after/projects-and-partnerships/fireoperationsgroup/moorlandfires

Then to now, You read this three days into Plug planting back at Ilkley Moor, 70,000 plugs will be dibbed and firmed into the previously burnt areas above the Cow And Calf rocks, weather permitting, by our team to improve the water retention and quality of the moorland. If you see us while out on your local walk, say hello!

From The ELMsolutions team,

Stay safe!

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