That’s a lot of water, for peat’s sake!


Shallow pools created through ditch blocking work at Low Moss, near Lugar

Shallow pools created through ditch blocking work at Low Moss, near Lugar (c) CEI 2017

The East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative (CEI) have carried out ditch blocking at two raised peat bogs in East Ayrshire, creating wetland habitat and supporting peat formation. 

Raised bogs are rare and threatened wetland habitats containing peat soils. In the UK, we have lost around 94% of our raised bog habitat through agricultural drainage, peat extraction for horticulture and afforestation.  Low Moss and Dalmellington Moss are two of the best examples of this habitat remaining in East Ayrshire.

Low Moss and Dalmellington Moss have been drained and burned in the past to dry out the bog for grazing. Over time this has degraded the habitat, resulting in fewer peatland plants in favour of grasses and scrub.  CEI staff have been working with site owners’ Hargreaves (Low Moss) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (Dalmellington Moss) to come up with restoration plans and to carry out the work needed to improve the bog habitat.  We will continue to work together in the future to ensure the sites are appropriately managed.

In early 2017 specialist contractors, Openspace (Cumbria) Ltd, used low-ground pressure excavators to install 3,150 peat dams and 11 plastic piling dams, and 2,575 metres of bund to block up drainage ditches and slow water loss across 50 hectares of bog.

Contractors have installed extra long peat dams to re-wet a heavily drained area at Dalmellington Moss (c) CEI 2017

Contractors have installed extra long peat dams to re-wet a heavily drained area at Dalmellington Moss (c) CEI 2017

Retaining water on the site can result in less flooding downstream and prevent peat erosion, which releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. Wetter bogs can support a spongy carpet of specialist plants including colourful Sphagnum mosses, which accumulate over time to form peat.  As peat forms, it traps carbon from the atmosphere, helping to tackle climate change.  Bogs are also home to amazing wildlife such as hen harriers, curlew, adders and many species of invertebrate.

CEI Project Manager, Daisy Whytock, said “the new peat and plastic piling dams have already created plenty of standing water at these sites, which look wet and muddy at present. The pools will soon become colonised by aquatic plants, creating perfect foraging areas for birds.”

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves manager, Gill Smart, said “Dalmellington Moss is one of the Trust’s most important reserves in Ayrshire.  We are very grateful to the CEI for helping get it into an even better state.  Their expertise in the ecology of bogs and their management was crucial to the project’s success”

The CEI also run an exciting education programme and will be taking local school pupils onto peat bogs in 2017 to learn about the habitat and the amazing wildlife it supports. We will also be monitoring water levels, vegetation and wildlife with the help of our team of volunteers.  If you would like to volunteer with us, please contact Project Officer, Jennifer Dunn, on 01563 576771 or email Jennifer.dunn@ea-cei.org.uk.