Magnificent Mires

Sundew

The Magnificent Mires project celebrates the fascinating, unrivalled natural and cultural heritage of one of Devon’s least known landscapes – the internationally important blanket bogs of Dartmoor.

Bogs aren’t boring!

Dunlin on Dartmoor’s blanket bog © David PriceMost visitors to Dartmoor are attracted by the tors and torrent streams, but what lies at the heart of the moors is a little known world of remarkable plants and rare wildlife. Carnivorous sundews and butterworts lurk amongst the blanket bogs, trapping unsuspecting insects; wading birds come here to breed including the world's most southerly population of breeding dunlin; and sponge-like sphagnum mosses in shades of green, gold and red create a bouncing blanket across the land.

Blanket bogs also help us

Sphagnum mossBlanket bogs are located at the headwaters of many of Devon’s larger rivers including the Dart, Tavy, Taw, and Teign. The sphagnum moss which makes up the bog has amazing absorption properties. In times of heavy rainfall, the moss soaks up water and then delivers clean, naturally filtered supplies in times of drought. Peatlands are also a vital carbon store; Dartmoor alone stores an estimated 10 million tonnes of carbon in its peatland soils which is equivalent to an entire year of carbon dioxide emissions from UK industry.

In these ways, blanket bogs perform important functions which are crucial to our daily lives.

Pickled history

Bogs are a waterlogged environment creating a kind of archaeological pickling jar for anything that falls into it. Dartmoor supports one of the largest concentration of archaeological remains in Europe, from the Neolithic to early industrial periods. Blanket bogs have preserved some of the finest Neolithic remains found to date.

To read the story of Whitehorse Hill and the first excavation of a burial site on Dartmoor for 100 years, visit the Dartmoor National Park website.

A habitat under threat

Blanket bogIn the past, activities such as peat cutting, over-grazing and burning, military usage and recreation have caused damage and erosion. As the habitat degrades, the ability of the bogs to deliver the services vital for local communities declines. Reduced biodiversity, poor water quality, carbon release and the loss of important historic records which span millennia are all a result of bogs drying out and eroding.

The good news is that today’s farming and landowning custodians are working hard to manage the blanket bogs for people and for wildlife.

Work carried out by Dartmoor National Park Authority has already started to restore areas of blanket bog, for more information click here.

The Magnificent Mires project aims to reconnect local people and visitors with this wild, working landscape and its farming custodians. We’ll be encouraging people to visit these remarkable habitats and bringing the bog to you through events and activities.

 

How you can get involved


There are many ways you can get involved and celebrate these amazing habitats.

If you are a local resident or visitor…

Moss under a hand lensLook out for our Community Engagement Officer, Jasmine, and our volunteers at local shows and events. Come and say hello and delve in to the fascinating world of bogs!


Check the events page for upcoming walks and talks (coming soon).

We will also be producing five ‘Seeing is Believing’ self-guided trail leaflets - so watch this space.

 

If you are a community group…


We offer talks to local community groups and can also attend local Dartmoor events. All talks are free but travel expenses will be required.

If you are a school…


Our education programme invites local schools in and around Dartmoor to be champions of your local river catchments, celebrating the blanket bogs at the headwaters, learning from farmers who steward the land and taking positive action to care for your local patch.


We offer a free half a day visit to your school to learn about blanket bogs. This can include an assembly and hands-on workshops for classes or after school groups.


Your school will then receive a ‘bog in a box’ to look after!
This can then be followed up with a fieldtrip to a bog; there is some funding available to cover part of the costs.

If you would like to volunteer...


Get in touch if you are interested in getting more involved, we have several volunteering opportunities including walk helpers, speakers and education volunteers.

Contact Jasmine Atkinson, Community Engagement Officer, on jatkinson@devonwildlifetrust.org


The Magnificent Mires project is led by Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Dartmoor National Park Authority, Dartmoor Preservation Association and The Duchy of Cornwall. The project is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dartmoor National Park Authority logo

Dartmoor Preservation Association logo

Duchy of Cornwall logo

supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.