During the industrial revolution, large amounts of peat were stripped and after the Second World War, the Moss was used as a dump for ordnance including mines and high explosive shells. The importance of Risley Moss as a landscape feature and wildlife habitat has now been recognised and the area is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a designated Local Nature Reserve with a Green Flag Award.
The main feature of the area is of course the moss itself, but there are also large areas of mature woodland to explore, comprising mainly of oak, ash and hazel. Fungi and many species of wildflower, including red campion and foxglove are abundant along the trail edge as well as in meadow areas that act as a haven for butterflies, bees and other insects.
As many as 60 species of breeding birds and 50 visiting species can be observed on the moss in a good year, from the Mossland Hide, the Woodland Hide or the Observation.
On the ground, adders, slow worms and lizards hunt for prey whilst at the decked observation ponds newts, frogs, toads and dragonflies can be spotted.
Dotted close to the footpaths, around the Reserve are many wooden sculptures created by artists and local people.
The main path up from the car park to the visitor centre is quite steep, but there is a gentler access route from near the main gates.