The CEI are now proud providers of the John Muir Award! An environmental award scheme that recognises and celebrates the achievements of individuals for understanding and taking responsibility for wild places. If you would like to take part with the CEI as part of our peatland enhancement project then just get in touch! For more information about the award see here.
Through the CEI’s Peatland Enhancement Project you can help to meet the Four John Muir Award Challenges:
Discover a wild place – what is your wild place?
Peatbog sites the CEI are currently improving include RSPB Airds Moss, SWT Dalmellington Moss and Sheil Farm – Airds Moss. This globally rare wetland habitat is of high conservation value; they provide essential ecosystem services such as carbon storage and natural flood management, and are important areas for wildlife including the Hen Harrier, Curlew, Sundew. adder, Large Heath butterfly and many species of plant including the peat-building Sphagnum mosses. Around 18% of the land cover of East Ayrshire is made up of moorland and bog; unfortunately many peatland habitats in East have been damaged through past land-use. These habitats are naturally very ‘wild’ and remote, providing an opportunity to get closer to nature and appreciate the peaceful surroundings.
Explore it – how will you experience, enjoy and find out more about your wild places?
As part of our Peatland Enhancement Monitoring Programme we will monitor the habitats to find out if re-wetting works are improving the condition of the bog. This involves surveying peatland plants including positive plant indicator species such as Sphagnum, Sundew, cross-leaved heath and cranberry and negative plant indicators such as Purple Moor grass. Water-levels will also be measured at set locations across each site using manual dipwells. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn plant identification skills, surveying skills, and a general understanding of the fascinating peatbog ecosystem.
The CEI take part in National Species Monitoring Schemes such as the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and Make The Adder Count Survey, where results are fed into a National Monitoring database that enables conservationists to see changes in species populations and distributions throughout the UK. The CEI also have their own biological database where all wildlife records are stored and eventually submitted onto the National Biodiversity Network; an online database where records are also made available to conservationists. Volunteers are encouraged to take pictures and record all wildlife when out on sites so that our understanding can be improved about the health of each habitat from the species that live there. Events such as Bioblitz’s are also a great way to build up records and learn from experts about species identification and recording.
Conserve it – how will you care for your wild place, take some personal responsibility, make a difference, and put something back?
Monitoring peatbog habitats as explained above is a vital part of caring for these places; the more we learn about the habitat and it’s wildlife, the more we can understand how to protect it in the future.
Aswell as monitoring peatbog habitats the CEI take part in practical conservation days to improve habitats for wildlife with RSPB Scotland such as making fencing more visible to Grouse, improving the floodplain habitat for wading birds, surveying for invasive species and removing trees and scrub on peatbogs.
Raising awareness of the importance of peatbogs is also a great way to make a difference and ensure future generations will care for these habitats. This can be through the CEI’s website, facebook page or face-to-face events such as guided walks and information stalls.
Share your experience – tell others about what you’ve done: experiences, achievements, feelings, what’s been learned, Celebrate!
Volunteers are encouraged to write blogs on their experience exploring and conserving peatbogs in East Ayrshire which will be displayed on the CEI website. The CEI quarterly volunteer newsletter is also a great way to celebrate volunteer achievements including key wildlife sightings, tasks completed, records created and photo’s taken. Regular meetings are held to reflect on conservation tasks and ideas for the future; volunteer’s are very much encouraged to suggest events they would like to get involved in, or lead, such as species surveys and wildlife identification training for example. Pictures of wildlife taken from volunteers will be displayed on the CEI Flickr site aswell as future photography exhibitions and facebook posts!
If you would like to work towards a John Muir Award or for more information please get in touch with Jennifer Dunn, CEI Project Officer, at email@example.com or call 01563 576771.