Lowland Raised Bogs are found in the lowlands of Scotland where they have formed on top of impermeable ground, such as clay. Sphagnum moss plays a key role in the creation of our peatlands as it grows continuously upward, leaving partially decomposed moss behind that creates peat. With bogs growing at a rate of 1mm/year and being between 5-9 metres in depth some are 9,000 years old! Our lowland bogs tend to be ‘domed’ in the middle and sit like a water droplet on the earth, earning the name ‘raised’ as they grow up from the surface. Raised bogs are important as they store massive amounts of carbon (1,620 megatonnes of carbon in peatlands across Scotland) and water, providing a carbon sink and flood management when in a good condition. As raised bogs are acidic and an extreme environment with little oxygen or decomposition you can find rare and specialist species adapted to this habitat, such as Sundew (Drosera species) that get their nutrients from insects they catch in their leaves.
The Falkirk Lowland Raised Bog Restoration Project will work to restore nine degraded sites that are across the Slamannan Plateau in Falkirk. Some of the techniques included in this project will involve removing scrub and forestry, and blocking ditches across the bogs to retain water by damming and bunding. Bunding creates walls of solid peat under the ground that act as a barrier, preventing water from escaping. These techniques are aimed at restoring water levels across the bogs and rewetting the surface, allowing active peat formation to continue.
During this project, we will work with landowners in the restoration of sites. This project will provide an improved habitat for bog specialist species such as the Bog Sun Jumper Spider (Heliophanus dampfi) and Large Heath Butterfly (Coenonympha tullia). It will also provide improved habitat connectivity across the Slamannan Plateau allowing species and individuals to move between sites.
(c) Lorne Gill
The Slammannan Plateau is a large area composed of scattered and relatively isolated pockets of peatland and farmland south of Falkirk in the Scottish Central Belt. The lowland raised bog sites have been subject to a wide-ranging and long-term adverse management, including burning, drainage for peat extraction, mineral extraction, historical afforestation and overgrazing.
Several of the sites are designated protected status ranging from Falkirk Wildlife Sites to Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) for a variety of features including for the winter roosting of Taiga bean geese (Anser fabilis).
This project will:
- Restore peat-forming activity on over 260 ha of degraded lowland raised bogs.
- Bring nine sites into conservation management schemes.
- Decrease carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions and net carbon sequestration across all restored sites.
- Stabilise hydrology across all sites with less risk of local flooding events and improved local water quality.
- Improve ecological coherence and connectivity of bog habitat across the Slamannan Plateau.
- Improve habitat for rare bog-specialist species and other peatland wildlife.
- Monitor sites that will assess the effectiveness of each intervention and inform the restoration of other bog habitat in the future.
If you would like to volunteer for this project please get in touch with the peatland conservation officer Melissa Shaw. There are volunteering opportunities ranging from practical workdays to take out scrub and trees on the bogs, to survey work across the bogs for wildlife and to monitor water levels both before and after restoration work has been carried out.
(c) Melissa Shaw