Scottish peat bogs are making a comeback after a year of hard work by the ‘Bog Squad’ – a group of volunteers dedicated to saving these precious wildlife habitats.
The team, managed by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation Scotland, celebrates its one year anniversary on Saturday 21 March, after being set up to rehabilitate damaged peat bogs across the Scottish Central Belt.
Many Scottish bogs are in a poor state after being damaged by drainage, planted with alien conifers or used as dumps, but thanks to funding from the Scottish Natural Heritage’s Peatland Action project, the Bog Squad have helped restore conditions at six sites in the last year.
David Hill is the Peatland Restoration Project Officer. He said: “More than 50 people have volunteered their time to help with the project so far, contributing more than 500 volunteer hours at six different bogs. We have installed over 60 ditch-blocking dams and cleared around six hectares of scrub. These measures help to keep the bogs wet which is of great benefit to the specialist flora and fauna that live there.”
Scottish peat bogs are increasingly valued for their biodiversity and the ‘ecosystem services’ they provide, such as flood prevention and carbon storage, but they are also home to a wide range of wildlife. Rare butterflies such as the Large Heath, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak all depend upon the habitat provided by peat bogs, as do a number of rare moths, such as the Argent & Sable, the Lunar Hornet and the Wood Tiger moth.
David added: “As part of the restoration work on the bogs, we also carry out butterfly and moth surveys and in the last year we have discovered previously unknown colonies of the rare Large Heath butterfly at two of the sites. For me this is even more reason to carry on with the work we are doing and I hope that over the next year we can restore many more bogs within the central belt of Scotland.”
Scotland’s Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Aileen McLeod, has also praised the team for their contribution over the last year:
“The Bog Squad has carried out some fantastic work on peatland restoration, which forms a crucial part of Scotland’s bio-diversity programme. I want to thank all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication to this extremely important project.”
An event to thank the Bog Squad volunteers and to mark the one year anniversary is taking place at the Langlands Moss Local Nature Reserve near East Kilbride on Saturday March 21. The Bog Squad has been working closely with the Friends of Langlands Moss community group to help improve the Langlands Moss Local Nature Reserve near East Kilbride. The partnership has been a great success with significant areas of the bog now rewetting.