I first became aware of the Peatland Action Fund through involvement with the Flows to the Future Project at Forsinard. FTTF employed a young man named Gearoid Murphy who hailed from Ireland and I first met him at a local deer group meeting where he came to present to Land Managers in the area. he explained what was being done on the ground at Forsinard and what the benefits might be in the future. Gearoid offered to come and look at Langwell & Braemore and identify areas where some restoration, predominantly ditch blocking might be possible. None of this work or subsequent projects would have been possible without his expert advice and crucial funding through the Peatland Action Fund administered by Scottish Natural Heritage and funded by the Scottish Government.
The site is an area of blanket bog in the Flow Country of Caithness. It is generally gently sloping with some moderate slopes. The site has been artificially drained some decades ago and extensive muirburn has historically taken place
The site had been drained extensively and drains on shallower peat had eroded to the mineral. Drains which collected water from several feeder drains had eroded into gulleys and were extremely deep and wide. Periods of heavy rainfall would lead to excessively fast run off which would erode the peat further and potentially be causing damage to the river environment (an SAC for Atlantic Salmon). Blocking the drains would re-wet the peat, slow down water run off and reduce sediment and carbon release into the atmosphere / water.
The site has been restored with dams functioning well on all drains. There is currently no evidence of further erosion and anecdotal evidence suggests that the flow regime in the burns that drain the site has changed with slower rise and fall of water levels. The site itself is much wetter on the whole than it was when the drains were open.
Project Name: Scaraben Flats
Organisation / Lead partner: Langwell & Braemore Estates
Location: Scaraben Flats, Berriedale, Caithness, Scotland
Approximate area covered: 300 ha
Conservation Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA)
Peat Habitats: Blanket bog
Project Type: Restoration
Year Project Began: 2015
Project End Date: 2016