The Friends of Chat Moss promote and help to look after Cadishead, Little Woolden and Astley Mosses, which are fragments of the once-extensive Chat Moss complex of peatlands between Manchester and Liverpool. The area has a really interesting social history in terms of peat-cutting, mining, farming, Stephenson’s famous ‘floating railway’ and the birth of the steam locomotive. However, increasing human impact on the area has decimated its natural resources. It is estimated that only 3% of the original Chat Moss survives with the potential for restoration.
A key plant in peatlands is Sphagnum moss, which holds a vast amount of water and creates the wet, acid conditions that reduce de-composition, thereby retaining the carbon stored by peatland plants during growth. These peatland functions are increasingly important in our efforts to combat climate change. Intact peatlands also support a wide range of specialised plants and animals that thrive in these conditions. This all makes the restoration of these sites so vital.
The Friends of Chat Moss group began in July 2016, originally as ‘Friends of Cadishead and Little Woolden Moss’. We recently incorporated Astley Moss SSSI into our work and so changed to our current name. We are a non-profit, local group of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust (Registered Charity No: 229325), supporting LWT in their work on this cluster of nature reserves. Cadishead and Little Woolden cover 115 hectares while Astley Moss is 35 hectares, giving us plenty to do!
The Friends of Chat Moss also works to engage the local and wider community with these wonderful green spaces. We have regular practical volunteer sessions throughout the year, giving opportunities for healthy exercise and learning new skills. We also work with local community groups on joint projects such ‘Grow our Peat Bog’ with Princes Park Community Garden Centre. We aim to grow 6000 peatland plants, using sustainable practices, giving work-based training opportunities for those in the local community with disabilities, disadvantages, or seeking employability skills, and encouraging community groups and schools to care for their local, but nationally important heritage.
Our group is growing, developing and learning all the time and we are just at the start of a long, but exciting journey to the great reward of restored peatland sites, with all their fascinating wildlife, for us and nature to enjoy for generations to come.
Our logo combines the distinctive cotton grass that is one of the building blocks of our mosslands with the Large Heath Butterfly, a species that we hope to help reintroduce to the sites as a long term goal.
We work with other groups to run community engagement events at CLWM and you may find us running a stall at other events and conferences from time to time.
Annual membership from the date of the AGM is a nominal £5.00.
Our current committee are: