Blanket bog restoration
Blanket bog is a type of peatland found in the uplands. It is only found in areas with cool, wet, maritime climates. Luckily, Scotland is ideal!
It is rarely found elsewhere in the world, which is why it is so important to preserve and restore it.
What’s so important about bog?
Our uplands bogs are home to many threatened birds, such as golden eagle, hen harrier and black grouse, as well as many important plants.
They also provide benefits for people:
- Water supply: much of our drinking water comes from peatland areas. It’s a key ingredient in whisky too!
- Flood management: healthy peat bogs help to regulate water flow, reducing peak flows and in drier periods, helping maintain a steady flow of water downstream.
- Recreation: visitors use the peaty uplands for deer stalking, angling and walking.
Restoring an important habitat
Perhaps because blanket bog is common in Scotland – covering 23% of our land area – we’ve been guilty of taking it for granted in the past. We drained large areas for forestry, particularly in the globally important Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland. The trees dried out the peat, changing the habitat and destroying its value for birds and other wildlife.
Since the 1990s, we have been engaged in a significant programme of peatland restoration. We’ve felled large areas of non-native conifers, blocked drainage ditches and returned to remove trees that have regenerated naturally.
Since 2000, we’ve restored approximately 1,700 hectares of forest plantation to blanket bog. A further 1,300 hectares of this important habitat have been improved.
Key blanket bog restoration projects
- In Caithness, our work has not only benefited the hydrology and ecology of the restored blanket bog, but has also improved water quality in the adjacent River Oykel, a Special Area of Conservation that’s internationally important for salmon and freshwater pearl mussels.
- At the other end of the country, Galloway has areas of important blanket bog. Here, our foresters have blocked more than 5,000 metres of drains at Silver Flowe National Nature Reserve and Eldrick Hill to improve the hydrological condition of the blanket bogs.