Cairngorms Peatlands flying high

October 22, 2020


Restoration management is underway again in the Cairngorms National Park supported by Peatland ACTION after the delays due to the global pandemic. Work started in June with site visits to assess work that finished suddenly with the onset of snow last winter. Some days of particularly fine weather involved surveying in shorts & t-shirt high in the mountains while other days were beset by a midge plague!

These early visits identified a number of issues relating to the failure of turf bunding in erosion gullies (the water flow was just too high) or the failure of sphagnum-rich mulch to bare peat (possibly due to some donor sites being too grass dominated). These visits enabled us to modify the work to take place this year to resolve these issues.

The site visits also identified some examples of the sphagnum-rich mulch having rapid vegetation establishment. The photo below is of a bare peat site at 820 metres in Glenfeshie Estate that had a thick layer of mulch applied in the autumn of 2019. Further work in this site will include the installation of coir logs to slow water flow and the application of lime. While a bare peat area on Balmoral Estate was treated in 2019 with a whole turf technique providing complete vegetation coverage.

We have also trialled the use of a very low ground pressure Softrak machine to transport locally mined stone, in an area that was re-profiled, turfed and bunded in 2019. This was very successful with the Softrak doing little damage to some very wet areas and being able to drop stone exactly where we wanted it without having to use a helicopter. The stone is being used to create stone spillways over the turf bunding or to reinforce the turf bunding where the water flow is very high.

We are now using 14 ton excavators much more on our restoration sites and find that they can work much faster than the smaller 8 ton machines. They can use a much bigger bucket and hence transplant larger turves on the re-profiled slopes as well as having a greater reach. Operators do have to be careful to limit the damage to vegetation with the bigger machines.

We did use helicopter transportation on RSPB Abernethy this year, due to remoteness, creating over 230 stone dams in a large area of eroded peat. Within days these dams were proving effective and in several cases had nearly filled up with sediment behind the dam.

From 2021, peatland projects in the Cairngorms National Park will be supported by grants directly from the Cairngorms National Park Authority and we will be expanding out peatland team to enable greater project delivery – so if you are interested in working in the Cairngorms look out for our vacancies.


Abernethy digger

Photographs: Peatland ACTION

The Extraordinary Story of Peat and Carbon
New short animation explores the extraordinary story of peat and carbonExploring the extraordinary quantities of carbon locked up on millennial timescales within peatland…
February newsletter: winter edition
IUCN UK Peatland Programme Newsletter: Winter Edition 2021Read the latest IUCN UK Peatland Programme newsletter.
The West Cavan Bog Association Site
Eyes on the Bog: The West Cavan Bog Association SitesTwo new Eyes on the Bog sites have been established by the West Cavan Bog Association, in Fartrin…
IUCN UK PP Conference
Reflections from the 10th IUCN UK Peatland Programme ConferenceThe 10th annual IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference was delivered online for the first time, with…
UK GHG inventory
Peatland addition to the UK GHG inventory adds 3.5% to national emissionsThe end of January saw the long awaited, formal inclusion of peatlands in the UK GHG emissions…
Peatland Code update
Peatland Code updateInterest in the Peatland Code continues to grow and the team are experiencing increased demand for…
Shetland Peatland Restoration
Getting out to the bog in ShetlandAn innovative solution to accessing a Peatland Restoration site in Shetland.
Heather burn (C) North Peninnes AONB
Defra announce plans to prevent burning of vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats.Today’s announcement from Defra that the government plans to bring forward legislation to prevent…
Deforested bog 2 years post treatment
ScottishPower Renewables winter 2021 peatland restoration activityScottishPower Renewables (SPR) have completed 1267ha of deforested bog restoration using their “…
Pre & post restoration
Microbial understanding of the resilience of peatland systems A series of workshops amongst peatland scientists, practitioners and policy makers held at the…
Volunteer group with newly built dry stone wall
Volunteer group and conservation organisations join forces to improve the health of local moorlandMoors for the Future Partnership has been working with Friends of Crompton Moor carrying out…
MFFP peat dams
Environment Agency working with Peak District partnership to slow the flow of water from the moorsIn its National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, published in July…