Bog restoration works are expected to benefit local water quality and nature, as well as contribute to meeting our climate change targets.
Members of the Ugie Peatland Partnership (UPP), who aim to restore 1,500 hectares of peatland within the River Ugie catchment, were delighted to see the recent completion of peat bog restoration works on Moss of Kinmundy.
The restoration work, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Peatland ACTION fund, should provide multiple benefits, including: increased carbon storage; improved water quality; and better wetland habitats for wildlife.
RSPB have overseen the project management, on behalf of the landowner, from an initial feasibility study through to completion of the project.
Hywel Maggs, from RSPB Scotland said ‘’It’s great to see Moss of Kinmundy on the road to recovery through restoration. I’m sure in time this will provide a significant carbon store, whilst creating homes for wildlife. Hopefully this is the beginning of a landscape scale approach to tackling the issues caused by degraded peatlands in the River Ugie catchment. We have a long way to go, but this is a fantastic start!”
Moss of Kinmundy covers approximately 50 ha, and is situated in the River Ugie catchment, just over 5.5 km south-west of Peterhead. The bog was targeted for restoration due to the combined impacts of drainage, forestry and historic peat extraction, which all contribute to the drying of the carbon-rich peat soil. The drying of the soil leads to the loss of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and erosion of the peat soil into watercourses. The organic material and discoloured water reaching the Drinking Water Protected Areas downstream from drained bogs is a major concern for Scottish Water.
The restoration works focussed on increasing the amount of water held on the bog; to do this, approximately 700 m of ditches were blocked, 2 ha of poor growing plantation was removed, and just under 2 km of peat ‘hags’ (eroding banks of peat) were reshaped and vegetated. The impacts of the ditch-blocking are already clear to see, with water being spread away from ditches.
Jared Stewart, from Scottish Water said: “It is hoped that over time, the Moss of Kinmundy peatland restoration will reduce organics and colour entering into the Forehill Water Treatment Works, at Peterhead. If peatland restoration can be undertaken at the whole catchment level we would expect to see a significant reduction in organics and colour in the water, which could potentially extend the operating life of the filters and reduce chemical and energy costs. This decrease in carbon and colour in the water would therefore be a benefit to both our customers as well as biodiversity in the area.”
Mike Taylor, who owns Moss of Kinmundy said: ‘’It feels good to be able to help the environment here, both in terms of creating habitat for wildlife and improving some of vital natural resources such as water quality. The project has also enabled me to make a contribution to tackling climate change. Peat bogs were once considered wasteland and dumping grounds, but we are now increasingly realising their importance for a wide range of environmental resources.’’
Local councillor, and Peatland Champion, Iain Taylor said: “It is important to recognise that the use of peatlands by landowners, local community and society in general is changing as time passes. It is great to see Ugie Peatland Partnership proving that these changes can be brought about by productive cooperation of many parties.”
Local Peatland ACTION Project Officer, Russell Hooper, commented: ”Whilst the primary aim of Peatland ACTION is to help meet our climate change targets, more and more we are seeing the additional benefits of restoration work; this is reflected in the support for the Kinmundy project from both Scottish Water and RSPB, and in the diversity of organisations involved in the UPP. Since 2012, Peatland Action has supported the restoration of 15,000 ha across Scotland, and it’s great to see some of that investment in the North-east, where we have numerous lowland bogs. With further funding now available I would encourage interested landowners to get in touch with us to discuss what could be done on their peatlands.”