This last weekend the Bog Squad were at Kingshill Local Nature Reserve at Allanton in North Lanarkshire. Kingshill is a great nature reserve with a wide variety of habitats from lovely flowering meadows to pine woodland. Included in the mix is of course some bog (or why would we be there!).
Once upon a time the bog at Kingshill would have been a fairly standard lowland raised bog with many other peatlands in the local area. Nowadays the bog is but a small fragment of isolated peatland habitat. Part of the cause of this was a coal mining operation in the 20th century nearby which resulted in thousands of tonnes of spoil material being dumped on the peat. Whilst this has meant that part of the bog habitat has been lost forever; it has also created some new, completely different new habitats. These include some spectacular flowering meadows which play host to the rather wonderful Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth. These meadows are at risk of being overtaken by scrub so some volunteers with Butterfly Conservation Scotland's Urban Butterfly Project tackled the task of clearing some of that scrub.
Like many bogs in central Scotland Kingshill suffers from a twin-pronged affliction - ditches and scrub. Both of these gradually take water away from the bog which dries out over time. This changes the vegetation composition of the bog making it even more susceptible to 'scrubbing up' and so begins a vicious cycle of decline. This means that not only does further peat deposition stop but the peat that is there actively degrades releasing carbon into the atmosphere. By blocking up the ditches the Bog Squad hopes to encourage the re-wetting of the bog and reverse the downward decline of the peat habitat.
The Bog Squad managed to install eight new ditch-blocking dams during the day. An excellent effort considering most of the piling had to be carried in and then sawn up. Thankfully all activities were carefully monitored by our volunteer supervisor Mr P......although as the above photo reveals he can get stuck in too!
Many thanks to all those who came along to help out - maybe see you at the next one!