Ancient origins of bog revealed during restoration work

Thursday 23rd June 2016

Surveys carried out by wildlife charity Buglife Scotland during peatland restoration work at Fannyside Muir, near Cumbernauld have revealed that the bog has been accumulating peat for over 9000 years.

Peat depth surveys were carried out as part of a large project restoring 210 hectares of damaged raised bog at Fannyside Muir. The results show that parts of the bog formed at the end of the last ice age when Britain was still connected to mainland Europe.

As part of their Slamannan Bog Restoration Project, Buglife Scotland have helped restore over 210 hectares of damaged bog at Fannyside Muir by blocking old ditches and removing trees to encourage peat-forming Sphagnum moss to recolonise the site.  Over 1600 dams have been installed, and 25 hectares of invasive conifers and scrub have been removed by volunteers and contractors.

Over 1500 shallow bog pools have also been created for dragonflies and other wildlife, including rare Taiga bean geese that roost on the bog pools in winter.

Over 80% of Scotland’s bogs have been lost or damaged in the last 200 years, mainly by drainage for agriculture, forestry and commercial peat extraction.  Fannyside Muir has suffered from all three.

Buglife Scotland’s Conservation Officer Dr Scott Shanks said “Under ideal conditions, peat accumulates at about 1mm per year; so it was quite a shock to discover that parts of Fannyside Muir hold over 9 meters of preserved  plant fragments, pollen and animal remains! “

“It’s possible that some of the Sphagnum mosses, and other bog-specialist plants and invertebrates at Fannyside Muir may have survived there continuously for over 9000 years.  Its amazing to think that when these bogs were forming extinct mammals such as giant deer, lynx, bears and wolves would have been found in Scotland, and it was possible to walk from Cumbernauld to Copenhagen'!”

Protecting our remaining peatlands and restoring damaged bogs is hugely important not just for their unique wildlife, carbon storage and flood prevention roles, but also because of the preserved history stored within these ancient habitats.

The Slamannan bog restoration project is funded by the WREN Biodiversity Action Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community for the EcoCo LIFE project.  Partners in the project include Forestry Commission Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB and SNH.