Latest peatland enhancement – update!

The East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative (CEI) is delighted to have rounded off 2017 with the completion of a new phase of peatland enhancement at Common Farm, near Cumnock, East Ayrshire. This brings the area of peatland enhanced by the CEI within the East Ayrshire coalfields to 450 hectares!

Common Farm was identified by the CEI as a priority site for peatland enhancement based on findings from surveys that we commissioned in 2014 and 2016. Between November and December 2017, enhancement works were carried out on three areas of peatland at the site by specialist contractors OpenSpace (Cumbria) Ltd. The work was designed to complement the management of the site under the landowner’s AECS scheme.

The enhancement work included ditch-blocking using peat dams, installation of bunds to hold water, targeted tree felling (a small section of trees were removed to separate an area of wet woodland from the bog edge), scrub control and rush cutting.e. The aim of the work was to slow water loss, raise and stabilise the water table across the bog and to support sphagnum growth and active peat formation.

The EcoCoLIFE Softrak cutting rushes at Common Farm

Prior to the re-wetting works, a network of dipwells and quadrats were installed across the three areas to enable the CEI to perform annual vegetation surveys and regular hydrological monitoring. A baseline vegetation survey was completed by an OpenSpace ecologist and CEI volunteers Jane and Tom helped to measure water levels in the 21 newly-installed dipwells. During the dipwell survey two hares were spotted as well as some very small, hairy caterpillars (Northern Eggars, we think!).

CEI Project Officer, Gemma (R), and volunteer, Jane (L) checking water levels in newly installed dipwells.

Now that the work is complete, we look forward to monitoring the site and will keep you posted with any updates. We would like to hear from anyone who is interested in helping monitor the bog to ensure the habitat’s health in the longer term, and create a special place for wildlife. Contact CEI Project Officer, Gemma, on 01563576771 or at if you would like to find out more or are interested in becoming a CEI volunteer.

Peat dam construction at Common Farm

This work is part of the CEI’s current peatland enhancement project which is part of the wider EcoCo LIFE project to improve ecological coherence across the Scottish Central Belt. The CEI’s work is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, East Ayrshire Council, and with the contribution of the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Community.