A TOP wildlife charity has launched a novel fundraising scheme to help restore fire ravaged moorland at one of Oldham’s favourite beauty spots.

Dovestone at Greenfield in the Peak District National Park, has some fire-blighted moorland which is managed by the RSPB in partnership with landowners United Utilities.

Now, the RSPB has begun "Text to Donate", allowing countryside lovers to show their love for the precious, vulnerable landscape by making an instant contribution to restore the beauty spot and make it more resilient to future fire damage.

Blanket bog is one of the key habitats of the moorland, with the UK having 10 to 15 per cent of the world’s total.

But despite their importance, over the last century the UK’s bogs have suffered from a combination of industrial pollution, managed moorland fires, wild fires, draining for farming and heavy grazing.

This has left them seriously damaged with large areas of exposed bare peat and a limited amount of vegetation and wildlife.

Since 2005, United Utilities, RSPB and Moors for the Future have been restoring the blanket bog at Dovestone helping to make dry uplands wetter and greener, by establishing vegetation on large areas of bare peat, placing dams of heather bales in eroded gullies to slow water flow and planting sponge-like Sphagnum moss to kick-start bog recovery.

Dave O’Hara, RSPB site manager at Dovestone, explained: “Wetter and greener uplands are important because it is much harder to burn wet, green vegetation than bare peat, which can smoulder for months once fire has set in.

“In terms of last summer’s fire, there is evidence wet gullies on the RSPB/United Utilities managed area, where peat-forming Sphagnum mosses have been re-introduced, played a role in slowing the spread and intensity of the fire.

“The importance of blanket bog habitat cannot be underestimated. It plays a vital role in storing carbon and improving water quality.

“Healthy bogs can tackle climate change by locking up harmful carbon in the peat and preventing its release into the atmosphere.

“Around the same amount of carbon is stored in this country’s bogs than in all of the UK, French and German forests put together.”

Healthy blanket bog is vital for water quality, acting as a natural filtration system in reservoirs. The cleaner the quality of the water coming off the moor, the cheaper it is to treat and so saves money for customers. Improving the habitat at Dovestone improves the water quality too.

Sphagnum moss is the building block of blanket bog acting like a sponge holding up to 10 times its own weight in water ab ability key to a healthy bog.

As well as slowing down the flow of water into the reservoirs and therefore improving the quality of the water (as it contains less soil), and locking in harmful carbon, wet bog is known to have higher numbers of key insects like crane flies (daddy long-legs) that are an important food source for many of the special birds that breed on the moor.

This restoration work being carried out at Dovestone by dedicated wardens and volunteers has already helped threatened moorland birds with the site recording a great rise in upland wading birds including dunlins, golden plovers, curlews and red grouse.

Complimenting the work, Dr Andrew Taylor, chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association, said: “This very successful award winning work over acres of moorland has been going on for years and produced good results in terms of returning native species.

‘That requires helicopters and is very costly. Their successful work on the moor top will be fire proof, prevent further peat erosion and is reckoned to outperform rainforest in carbon capture."

To support this ongoing work and become part of the huge effort to Restore the Moor text MOSS01 followed by the amount you wish to donate, to 70070.