A National Nature Reserve for 30 years

Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield from the air

2021 marks thirty years since Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses (collectively “The Marches Mosses”) were designated as a National Nature Reserve. Prior to 1991, the peatlands located south west of Whitchurch, were drained, reduced in size and damaged by commercial peat cutting. Their remote location and relative inaccessibility made them an ideal place for practice shooting ranges in the First World War and a decoy site for German bombers to target during the Second World War.

But, the Mosses (which also include Cadney Moss and the Shropshire Wildife Trust owned Wem Moss) are a dramatically disappearing habitat and by the end of the 1980s, it was becoming clear that their protection was of national importance. For thirty years, the NNR has been cared for by Natural England (previously English Nature), who, under the guidance of Reserve Manager Dr Joan Daniels have worked to restore the peatland to its former condition. A excerpt of a presentation video from Joan about 30 years of management can be viewed below.

To celebrate 30 years of National Nature Reserve designation, Natural England and other partners of the BogLIFE Project held events on Whixall Moss on 10th and 11th September. The first event welcomed Natural England Chair Tony Juniper and Natural Resources Wales Chair Sir David Henshaw to the reserve to see first-hand some of the work that has been carried out to restore the Mosses and raise awareness of their importance.

On 11th September, a number of public events were also held to raise awareness of this special place:

· Peat-surface-sky: Banners celebrating the Mosses created by Wem Youth group.

· A Late Summer Walk with Stephen Barlow

· A Bug Safari on the Mosses with Shropshire Wildlife Trust

· Art Trail of sounds and sculpture- a guided tour with lead artist Andrew Howe