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Reflecting on a changing environment

Welcome to this site, created by artist, Andrew Howe, to bring together a series of walks, conversations, narratives and artworks made with others in response to the fascinating landscape of the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield NNR and the environmental issues it faces.

The project will build a link with the Macquarie Marshes, another Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in New South Wales, where Australian artist, Kim V. Goldsmith is leading digital media art projects.

Explore the site to find out about the projects’ activities and how you can get involved.

The Mosses

The National Nature Reserve (NNR) straddles the Anglo-Welsh border in North Shropshire and Wrexham. It is Britain’s third largest lowland raised bog, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a European Special Area of Conservation, and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.

It formed about 9,000 years ago, after glaciers retreated leaving a melt-water lake which became populated by swamp and fen plants, and Sphagnum moss. This acidified the groundwater, stopping plant decay and allowing peat to form a large dome.

Draining of the land to aid construction of the canal and railway and then commercial extraction of peat during the 19th and 20th Centuries, right up to the 1990s, resulted in the collapse of the raised dome.

Since Natural England and Natural Resources Wales acquired the centre of the Mosses as a NNR in 1990, they have been restoring conditions to regenerate the bog, by clearing woodlands and blocking drainage.

What are the issues?

Peat bogs are a vital carbon sink, since once it is cut, this carbon is released into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

The Mosses wetland habitats support rare species of birds, invertebrates, small mammals and plants. The biodiversity of these ecosystems is thriving but must face up to the threat of climate change.

Humans have lived in and depended on the land in the NNR and surrounding area for millennia. The interdependent relationships between humans, the land and its ecosystems continue to shift and re-balance.

What is the future for the Mosses and what can this tell us about the future for humankind?

Artist projects

Many visitors are inspired by the wild and intriguing landscape of the Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield NNR . It is a place offering different viewpoints and opportunities for artists and writers to explore for individual or collaborative projects.

Andrew Howe has been creating his own work in response to walks on the Mosses for some time and is aiming to be a catalyst for others to make and share their own responses to the landscape. This may include:

  • Collaborations with other artists
  • Artist residencies
  • Engagement projects with schools and community groups
  • Exhibitions and artist talks
  • Walks, events and workshop activities

The collaboration with Kim V. Goldsmith, and her work at the Macquairie Marshes in New South Wales, Australia, will be an exciting project putting the Mosses into a global context.

Learn more about the artists:

If you have something to share, interested in arranging or attending an event or wish to discuss an idea with Andrew please get in touch.

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