Marches Mosses BogLIFE project shortlisted for International Prestigious Engineering Award

The Marches Mosses BogLIFE project in Shropshire and Wales, which is helping to restore one of the rarest habitats on earth, has been shortlisted for the 2022 Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice Award.

This international competition showcases the best of civil engineering, recognising projects that have a positive impact on the local economy and communities whilst at the same time, highlighting the positive benefits civil engineering has on people’s everyday lives and society as a whole.

This year, six projects have been shortlisted from both UK and international entries with the general public able to vote online for their favourite via the ICE website.

With over 96% of peat bogs destroyed after hundreds of years of exploitation, the Marches Mosses BogLIFE project was designed to restore Britain’s third-largest lowland raised peatbog within the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserves.  This habitat stores more than 10 times the carbon of the equivalent area of rainforest; a recent University study confirms  the Marches Mosses holds over 1 million tonnes.

Director of local Bridgnorth contractor WM Longreach said: “We are proud to have been involved in this forward-thinking project making a massive contribution to carbon reduction and the future wellbeing of our local region both environmentally and economically.”

Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have been working to restore 665 hectares of the Marches Mosses during the 5 year project.  A UK-first for bog edge habitat restoration on this scale, the peatland landscape at multiple locations required reverse engineering, whilst sensitively designing and considering the ecology, wildlife, and local communities.

Robert Duff for the BogLIFE project said:

‘Healthy peat bogs are vitally important for both nature recovery and tackling climate change. Its important that where we carry out restoration schemes they are carefully designed and sensitively undertaken in consultation with the local community.’ Successfully managing a project like this has required a dedicated project team of local ecologists, designers, engineers and their apprentices, local contractors and BogLIFE project trainees to work together closely despite the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring community engagement throughout.  Local involvement in the project has been key with volunteers devoting some 875 hours of their time to supporting its delivery.

The community have been at the heart of this project not only in its execution but also in conception and design, with time spent liaising with disability advocates to ensure new audiences gain access to nature, another central goal of the project.

Richard Grindle, CEO of Shropshire Wildlife Trust said: “Peatlands matters - for biodiversity, for health and wellbeing, and for carbon; and lowland peat is a vital part of this. The highly successful BogLIFE project has helped bring Britain’s third-largest lowland raised bog back to life, bringing back vital plant and animal species, protecting this vital carbon sink, and helping people of all abilities connect with nature.”

The Marches Mosses BogLIFE project has been a wonderful source of inspiration and education to the local and wider public: with technical and village hall presentations for over 1,000 people; guided walks and provision of resources for 6 self-led walks online during the height of the pandemic engaging 3200 people; events for horse riders, dog walkers and those with access limitations;  as well as art, craft, photography activities to draw in 1,600 people from new audiences.

The competition is fierce with other shortlisted schemes including:

Lekki Deep Sea Port Project, Nigeria (ICE Africa)
Lincoln Flood Defences, Lincoln (ICE East Midlands)
Wolsingham Sewage Treatment Works (STW) Growth, County Durham (ICE North East)
Seacombe Ferry Terminal Refurbishment, Wallasey, Wirral Peninsula (ICE North West)
Stockingfield Bridge, Glasgow (ICE Scotland)

 

ICE East and West Midlands Regional Director, Jo Barnett, said: “What a great achievement for the Marches Mosses BogLIFE project to be shortlisted in the ICE People’s Choice Award. The standard of this competition was very high, and I am delighted that our region is being represented by this fantastic scheme and the great project team behind it. I do hope the local community gets behind this fantastic project and votes for it.”

The public vote opens at 10:00 hours (UK time) on Tuesday, 6 September for six weeks, closing at 17:00 hours on Tuesday, 18 October. The winner will be announced soon after voting closes.

Members of the public can view the projects and cast their votes here: https://www.ice.org.uk/what-is-civil-engineering/peoples-choice-award/.

The 2021 winner was the National Botanic Garden of Wales Regency Restoration project.

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