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For the Love of Peat…

Recently we have been undertaking peat depth surveys and implementing management plans for hydro schemes across Scotland, as well as delivering interactive peat ecology talks to primary schools.

Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed organic matter (predominantly sphagnum mosses) submerged in water. Due to water abundance these boggy habitats lack oxygen, and the bacteria which would normally breakdown dead matter cannot survive, resulting in partially decomposed substance we call peat. More than 20% of Scotland’s surface is peat, covering approximately 2/3 of Britain’s bogs. Growing at 1mm annually, Scotland’s bogs have been forming for thousands of years.

Why are peat bogs important? It is a great part of our natural heritage, supporting a wide range of animals and rare plants, including carnivorous plants such as sundews (Drosera) and butterworts (Pinguicula). Bogs also store high volumes of carbon which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Over the years, human uses of peat bogs has included fuel for heating our homes, soil additives, plant based dyes for tartans, preserving butter, sphagnum mosses for wound dressing during WWI, and of course we cannot forget its use in whisky (uisge beatha – the water of life).

As Scotland develops, these environments are increasingly under threat. Therefore it is important we understand peat ecology and how to protect our bogs.

If you have a project involving peat or would like advice regarding surveys and management then feel free to get in touch.


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