Thursday, 14 May 2015

Molinia Conference, Huddersfield: 14-16 September

Molinia on Marsden Moor
The full title of this conference is: "Molinia caerulea on upland peat in the UK: history, dependencies and the role of intervention in achieving conservation goals".

From the flyer for the conference:
"Peat covers much of the flat or gently sloping uplands of the UK, forming blanket mire that can host a number of vegetation types. The type favoured by conservationists, and considered to be associated with the greatest rate of peat formation, involves cotton-grass (Eriophorum) species, ericaceous shrubs and Sphagnum mosses. In practice, this is lacking over large areas of upland where it might be expected, its place being taken by very dominant Purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea. Conservation bodies expend much effort in trying to replace Molinia with the more desirable species and conservation objectives are set with this in mind. This conference examines the place of Molinia caerulea in UK plant communities, factors affecting its growth and experiments looking at ways of adding greater diversity where appropriate. The aim is to gain a clearer understanding, through discussion, of what types of conservation objective should be applied and how to achieve them.

The conference will take place in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, 14-16 September 2015 and will contain two days of presentations and discussion followed by a field trip on Day 3 to look at diversification experiments set up in dominant Molinia on the Marsden Moor Estate. We are able to keep the conference fee low due to generous support from Natural England and the International Peat Society."

I can vouch for Marsden Moor being a good venue for the field visit.  The Trust ran a demonstration project for Defra at Marsden for three years from 2003, and I remember walking the part of the moor shown in the photograph.  At the time, it had a complete coverage of molinia tussocks and it was hard walking.  I suspect it has not changed a lot since.

For more detail about the conference see the Marsden Moor Estate website.