Butterfly Conservation Scotland’s ‘Bog Squad’ is a volunteer task force, created to carry out rehabilitation works on damaged peatlands across Scotland’s Central Belt, with funding from our Peatland ACTION project. David Hill of Butterfly Conservation tells us more.
Central Scotland is scattered with peatlands ranging from large sites such as Flanders Moss NNR to small fragments of bogs located amongst agricultural lands. Many of these peatlands have been left damaged by attempts at drainage for forestry and agricultural purposes. This has resulted in lower water tables making the peat susceptible to drying which can not only release precious carbon into the atmosphere but also threatens the specialised flora and fauna that thrive on the wet and boggy surface.
Many species of Lepidoptera make bogs their home including the Large Heath which is Britain’s only peatland specialist butterfly. Dwarf shrubs on peatlands such as heather and blaeberry also provide habitat for a range of scarce moth species. Lowland bogs are often fringed by woodland which provides habitat for many more species of moth and butterfly including the increasingly rare Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly. All these species are dependent on good quality peatlands to provide habitat for them. And this is where the Butterfly Conservation Scotland’s Bog Squad comes in …
The Bog Squad volunteers have been working hard to improve the fortunes of our lowland peatlands. They have created drainage ditch-blocking dams by using sheets of plastic driven down with big rubber mallets. This helps raise the water table and keeps the peat hydrated. Small pools of open water are often formed behind the dams providing habitat for dragonflies and other aquatic fauna.
Over time the ditches fill up with sphagnum mosses whose decaying remains drive the peat formation process and the ditch returns to its boggy origins. Bog Squad volunteers also help by removing encroaching scrub from bogs. Scrub and developing trees intercept water and increase evaporation causing the bog surface to further dry out.
The Bog Squad project is now in its second year and so far we’ve worked at 11 peatland sites where we’ve installed over 100 ditch-blocking dams and cleared 8 hectares of scrub. Along the way over 70 volunteers have contributed a total of 1000 hours of time towards peatland restoration. Hopefully our work will go some way to helping secure a brighter future for these special places.
To join the Bog Squad and find out about upcoming opportunities please visit the Bog Squad blog.