Wildlife Charity Buglife Scotland and partners Forest Enterprise Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Wildlife Trust have completed the final phase of a large bog restoration project at Fannyside Muir, near Cumbernauld.
More than 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. As part of their Slamannan Bog Restoration Project, Buglife Scotland have restored 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 4100 dams have now been installed and 25 hectares of conifers and scrub have been removed by volunteers and contractors.
Twenty-seven hectares of shallow bog pools have also been created for dragonflies and other wildlife, including rare Taiga bean geese that roost on the bog in winter.
Prior to restoration work only 11% of site was in favourable condition (ground water within 10cm of surface). Following restoration, the monitored sections of Fannyside Muir are holding an extra 258 million litres of rain water (on average), and over 90% of the site is suitable for peat-forming Sphagnum moss to recolonise.
The project has provided volunteering and training opportunities for 56 volunteers, who contributed over 396 volunteer hours helping with tree clearance, ditch blocking and monitoring. More than 650 species of invertebrates, plants, mosses, fungi, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have bee recorded from the bog
Angus MacDonald, MSP for Falkirk East MSP and MSP Species Champion for the Bog sun-jumper spider came to see the completion of the bog restoration work at Fannyside Muir, and said “‘Firstly I would like to congratulate everyone involved in ensuring the successful completion of the bog restoration project at Fannyside Muir, which will act as a long-term carbon sink, maintain water quality and support wildlife.
Damaged peatland affects the whole of society so I am delighted to see at first hand the final result, restoring over 210 hectares of damaged bog at the site.
Rewetting peatbogs has been recognised as a vital way of storing carbon and coupled with over 650 species recorded in the Fannyside Muir area everyone involved in the project should give each other a big pat on the back for a job well done!’
Yvonne Grieve from Forest Enterprise Scotland said “This project came at an opportune time as the Forest Enterprise Scotland took ownership of the Fannyside SSSI only a year before the project. Buglife with funding from EcoCoLIFE and WREN have provided resources that have allowed for the recovery of this valuable habitat, creating active bog vegetation that will preserve the existing peat and capture carbon through the creation of new peat. Forest Enterprise Scotland will continue to manage the bog habitat in the future thus delivering for the Scottish Biodiversity route map to 2020 and maintaining the habitat and landscape for the local communities.”
North Lanarkshire Council Senior Biodiversity Officer Laura McCrorie said “Low land raised bog is a UK Biodiversity Group priority habitat, and is considered the most nationally and internationally important habitat in North Lanarkshire. The bog restoration work co-ordinated by Buglife at Fannyside Muir is a brilliant example of partnership working supported by the North Lanarkshire Biodiversity Action Plan.”
Buglife Scotland’s Conservation Officer Dr Scott Shanks said “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 site has been accumulating layers of pollen and plant and animal remains in the peat for over 9000 years”.
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 Forest Enterprise Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Cumbernauld Living Landscape and SNH.
In the past 200 years there has been a dramatic decline in the area of lowland raised bogs in the UK. In Scotland, it is estimated that over 80% of raised bog habitat has already been damaged or lost, and that the majority of the remaining bogs are in poor condition due to detrimental management activities, such as drainage for agriculture, forestry and commercial peat extraction. Without intervention and restoration further habitat loss is likely due to the gradual desiccation of bogs that have been fragmented and damaged by previous attempts at drainage.
Drainage of bogs and peatlands speeds the flow of rainwater contaminated with high levels of carbon into rivers, and greatly increases the risk of downstream flooding following storms . Drainage of bogs also triggers the release of huge amounts of CO2 and greenhouse gases from the peat, as thousands of years of semi-decayed vegetation begins to rot once more. Restoring these unique habitats by rewetting damaged bogs prevents the release of greenhouse gases and encourages the growth of peat-forming sphagnum mosses which locks up more carbon.