February 2022 was a momentous time for Lindow Moss. For centuries, the peatland had been degraded, initially by cutting peat for fires, draining it for agriculture and progressively enclosing it. But the degradation sped up rapidly over the past hundred years with the introduction of mechanical methods of peat cutting and planning conditions requiring exhausted areas of peat cutting to be covered over with domestic waste or inert building waste.
A complicated planning deal was put together to enable the planning/extraction permission on Saltersley Moss – the last remaining former peat bog on Lindow Moss - to be given up in exchange for permission to build houses on the adjacent former peat processing land. That agreement was triggered by the first act of restoration, installing a dam to flood Compartment 9 in the restoration plan.
It was serendipitous that this act was witnessed by long-time champions of Lindow Moss, John Handley and Brian Donohue. And Brian captured the moment with a photograph, which is also the subject of Day 16 in the exhibition.
It seems to me that that day is potentially the threshold between the years of neglect and dying and the years of restoration and re-birth yet to come. For the Moss is still drying out, with the peat shrinking and carbon continuing to be released into the atmosphere. But the prospect of raising the water levels and bringing the Moss back to life is now real; and the planning deal requires this to be completed within 25 years – by February 2047. I am unlikely to see that day, but I hope my children and grandchildren will…