Forest to Bog restoration – Local success in Moray forest
Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) work to restore an Aberdeenshire peatland is already paying dividends with the successful establishment of a white carpet of bog cotton – and the arrival on site of peewits (lapwings) and curlews – species that are in serious decline across Scotland.
Increases in other bird species - such as stonechats, skylarks, and meadow pipits – have also been recorded at Gowmoss, a 130ha site near Fochabers that is the largest project so far undertaken date by FLS in the north east of Scotland.
FLS Environment Ranger, Alan Campbell, said;
“The restoration of open, boggy habitats has been a while in the planning so seeing the amazing carpet of bog cotton and the surge in bird numbers – especially the waders – is a great reward for all that hard work.
“The timely boost for these species makes Gowmoss a really special, tranquil place to be on calm, spring and summer evenings. It’s quite amazing to just sit and listen to the evocative calls of the peewits and curlews, which give you a real sense that nature is returning here.”
Plans to restore the site and its valuable peatland habitat began to be developed in 2014 when the trees that had occupied the site were felled after becoming diseased and windblown.
In 2018, tracked excavators arrived on site at Douglasshiel Moss, the North eastern most section of the site to install peat dams to block drainage ditches. Tree stumps were then flipped over to bury them in the peat to smooth the site. Further work on an adjacent part of the restoration area was carried out in 2019.
FLS’s East Region Environment Advisor, Philippa Murphy, added;
“It has been really heartening to see the transformation at Gowmoss, after only a couple of years of working on the site. The return of sphagnum mosses and the white of the bog cotton is a really striking, positive sign.
“Gowmoss is a really important site for us in the north east of Scotland and it’s not only the bird species that are benefitting.
“Restoring peatland improves water quality and the restored bog can actually contribute towards natural flood management, by reducing the outflow peak at certain times, particularly after heavy downpours following dry periods, which is important for the local area.”
Scottish Government has an ambitious climate change programme that recognises the role that both woodland and peatlands can play in absorbing carbon dioxide and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy also includes peatland habitats as priorities for protection and conservation action.
Notes to editors
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
- The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy also includes peatland habitats as priorities for protection and conservation action.
- Scottish Government has an ambitious climate change programme that recognises the role that both woodland and peatlands can play in absorbing carbon dioxide and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.