Friday, 6 November 2015

Peatland Action - Team Meeting - day 1

Part of Inshriach Restoration Site, near Aviemore
I had an interesting day with the Peatland Action team in Aviemore, yesterday, that included a visit to nearby peatland restoration sites.

Seeing this work first hand confirms my conviction that the restoration of peatland is long overdue.  In the past our treatment of these areas as waste land has been to ignore their value in so many ways.  Their impact on water quality is the most obvious; when you can see how much peat material gets washed away when the protective layer of vegetation is removed you can begin to understand why our rivers turn brown after heavy rain.  We should also not forget the eroding effect of wind on peat that has dried out.

One of the areas we visited yesterday had lost about a metre of depth, since concern was first expressed about the condition of the area in 1986.  While there maybe between three and five metres of peat on this site still, it will not last long at this rate of erosion.

Some of the Peatland Action Project Officers
The first task for restoration work must be to restrict erosion by restoring the vegetation cover.  If the water table is then raised, this surface layer will become self-sustaining.  The ideal is then for  sphagnum mosses to colonise the area which will then start to form more peat.

This is all long-term stuff.  The Peatland Action team have been tasked with spending £3m in the 9 months that ends on 31 March 2016.  When compared with the scale of the problem caused by our lack of sensitive management in the past, this is a drop in the bucket, but it is a good start.  More funding and more awareness of the challenge we face is required.

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