Lanarkshire peatland restoration project launched

Lanarkshire’s precious peatlands, home to rare butterflies, moths and plants are to be restored thanks to funding that will return the important wildlife habitats to their former glory.

Three lowland peat mosses will be restored as part of the ‘Lanarkshire’s Large Heaths and Mosses – Restoring Precious Peatlands’ project.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation Scotland has been awarded nearly £98,000 by WREN's FCC Scottish Action Fund (through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund), and a European project ‘EcoCoLIFE’ towards the restoration of three lowland peat mosses totalling over 200 hectares between Carnwath and Forth in South Lanarkshire.

The mosses of South Lanarkshire are important wildlife habitats for the rare Large Heath butterfly, as well as other scarce butterflies such as the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak.

Peat mosses also provide vital homes for spectacular moths such as the Emperor, Lunar Hornet, Orange Underwing and Wood Tiger.

Many Scottish peat bogs are deteriorating following years of damage and neglect caused by drainage, the planting of alien conifers and fly-tipping, which has left them vulnerable to drying out, endangering the specialist species that live there.

Planned restoration work includes scrub control at Cranley Moss and Braehead Moss and the blocking of old ditches at Blacklaw Moss Wood.

The work will be carried out by specialist peatland contractors and trained volunteers who will also help survey the sites for butterflies, moths and other wildlife. Conservation tasks will also include improving access to Braehead Moss for the local community and visitors.

The project aims to bring the water tables on these mosses back to the surface, to ensure the immense stores of carbon they contain remain locked up in the peat. Peatlands are important as they play a key role in carbon storage and flood prevention, as well as for their wildlife.

Large Heath Species Champion Aileen Campbell MSP, said: “Restoring peatlands can really enhance the environment for communities so I’m pleased to launch the lowlands project here in Lanarkshire.

“Open space access improvements, carbon storage and flood prevention are some key benefits of peat restoration.

“The upcoming mosses work can help reduce emissions and will regenerate wildlife habitats including that of the rare Large Heath Butterfly.”

Butterfly Conservation Scotland has created a team of volunteers called the ‘Bog Squad’ who carry out peatland restoration work throughout Scotland. The charity has restored a top quality peatland nature reserve at Wester Moss near Stirling.