Midland Meres & Mosses IPA
Location: The meres and mosses of the north-west Midlands extend from Shrewsbury in the south to the Knutsford area in the north, as far east as central Staffordshire and as far west as the Wrexham area in the lowland fringe of north Wales.
Grid Reference: SJ 488 369
The meres and mosses of the north-west Midlands form one of the most important wetland areas in England. They lie in a landscape of gently undulating plain broken by sandstone ridges, in an area which is mainly rural and agricultural.
The presence of tracts of peat and expanses of water in this landscape seems surprising, but can be accounted for by the influence of the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago and shallow hollows were flooded by melting ice sheets. An important feature of the IPA is the presence of a large range of different wetland habitats, including open water, swamp, fen, alder carr, marshy grassland and peat bog. The area is peppered with small peat and open water wetlands that are of international conservation importance.
In wetter areas, the mosses are covered by peat-forming carpets of sphagnum bogmoss species and the snowy heads of hare’s-tail cotton-grass and common cotton-grass. Cranberries, bog rosemary, bog asphodels, and insect-eating sundews and lesser bladderworts are to be found here too. Great hairy willowherbs, water figworts, marsh woundworts, yellow irises, reeds, nettles and marsh cinquefoils fringe pools and watercourses.
The IPA holds populations of some species whose conservation is significant in either national or international terms, like the slender green feather moss, a threatened species that can be found in the fens and flushes here. The IPA has been identified mainly due to the presence of some important vascular plants like least water-lily, cowbane and the floating water-plantain - a threatened aquatic plant that can be found in the canals.