Wildlife charity ‘giving a dam’ about climate change and flood prevention

Thursday 7th January 2016

Wildlife charity Buglife Scotland has announced the installation of the 1000th dam in their ambitious Slamannan bog restoration project, which is helping to repair damaged lowland raised peat bogs in central Scotland.

One year into this exciting project, Buglife have installed 1000 dams across more than 110 hectares of damaged bog (an area larger than 270 football pitches!) and cleared over 8 hectares of invasive conifers and scrub at Fannyside Muir, near Cumbernauld.  

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

Drainage of upland bogs and peatlands speeds the flow of rainwater into rivers, and greatly increasing the risk of downstream flooding following storms.  During December 2015, the dammed areas of Fannyside Muir captured over 150 million litres of rainwater, slowing its progress into already swollen local burns and rivers.

Buglife Scotland’s Conservation Officer Dr Scott Shanks said “As well as helping to prevent flooding, undamaged bogs acts as enormous carbon sinks.  They make up just 3% of global surface area, but hold more carbon than the world’s entire forest biomass.  Unfortunately, they’re also very vulnerable.  If bogs are drained, huge amounts of CO2 and greenhouse gases are released from the peat.  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.”

Healthy bogs also provide a unique habitat for rare wildlife and plants including carnivorous Sundews, Short-eared owls, Skylarks and invertebrates such as the Large heath butterfly and the Hieroglyphic ladybird. 

Regular joint conservation work parties have been held during the autumn and winter with Butterfly Conservation’s Bog Squad volunteer group.  In December, volunteers felled an impressive 5 hectares of invasive pines that made ideal Christmas trees.

Buglife Scotland staff and volunteers have recorded more than 470 species at the bog restoration site in the first year including rare Taiga bean geese, which roost overnight on the bog.   Buglife are looking for volunteers to help with conservation work and document the recovery of bog vegetation, monitor improvements in ground water levels, and help with wildlife surveys.

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