As our climate increasingly warms, the UK’s peatlands are put under ever greater pressure.
Long dry spells are predicted to become more commonplace, raising the question of whether future predicted climate scenarios will maintain the wet conditions needed in some areas for continued peat formation.
The threat of climate change is particularly acute for damaged bogs where drying is already occurring due to attempts at drainage. A drier climate could tip the balance and turn these vast carbon stores into carbon emitters, further exacerbating the world's climate problems. As intense periods of rainfall are forecasted to occur more regularly, increasing erosion incidents with peat washed into streams and carbon ultimately ending up back in the atmosphere will also increase.
Peatlands and wildlife
All this puts our wildlife under threat too. Peatlands support unique ecosystems of invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and flora that will be lost by constant, widespread drying. The Large Heath butterfly is one of those species under threat. A peatland specialist, it is already much declined after huge losses of good quality bog habitat throughout the lowlands.
Butterfly Conservation's Bog Squad project is working to combat climate change through working to build resilience in peatland habitats. Funded by Peatland ACTION, Trust Funds and our Glasgow and SW Scotland and East Scotland Branches, the Bog Squad works with volunteers across Scotland to carry out restoration work. Artificial ditches are blocked and water-sapping scrub is removed helping sphagnum mosses, the driving force behind peat formation, to flourish again. Over time wet conditions begin to build again within the bogs, making them more resilient against dry spells.
Helping our peatlands
For six years Bog Squad volunteers have been putting in huge efforts to save our peatlands and their habitats. Restoration work has been carried out at 25 bogs with over 325 hectares of bog improved. Nearly 300 individual volunteers have joined in to carry out this vital work.
The UK’s peatlands are unique, beautiful places of great international value and irreplaceable wildlife. To combat climate change, we all need to get involved and Butterfly Conservation's Bog Squad volunteers are certainly doing that.
If you would like to get involved, please contact David Hill, Bog Squad Project Officer at @email or our Stirling Office on 01786 459813.
Bog Squad Project Officer