Peatland restoration aims to save rare butterflies
Decades of destruction to Scotland’s natural peat bogs, caused by neglect and environmental mis-management, is threatening the existence of many rare species of butterflies, moths and plants.
Now, a new project has been launched to reverse the decline of these precious peatlands in South Lanarkshire by returning the important wildlife habitats to their former glory.
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation Scotland has been awarded nearly £98,000 in grants towards the restoration of three lowland peat mosses totalling over 200 hectares between Carnwath and Forth.
The mosses of South Lanarkshire are important wildlife habitats for the rare Large Heath butterfly, as well as other scarce butterflies such as the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak.
Peat mosses also provide vital homes for spectacular moths such as the Emperor, Lunar Hornet, Orange Underwing and Wood Tiger.
Many Scottish peat bogs are deteriorating as a result of years of drainage, the planting of alien conifers and fly-tipping, which has left them vulnerable to drying out.
Planned restoration work includes scrub control at Cranley Moss and Braehead Moss and the blocking of old ditches at Blacklaw Moss Wood.
Cranley Moss and Braehead Moss are both sites of European importance, designated Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Blacklaw Moss Wood is a former Forestry Commission plantation that has been felled and is being restored as a nature reserve by the owners.
All the work will be carried out by specialist peatland contractors and trained volunteers who will also help survey the sites for butterflies, moths and other wildlife. Conservation tasks will also include improving access to Braehead Moss for the local community and visitors.
The project aims to bring the water tables on these mosses back to the surface, to ensure the immense stores of carbon they contain remain locked up in the peat. Peatlands are important as they play a key role in carbon storage and flood prevention, as well as for their wildlife.
Large Heath Species Champion Aileen Campbell MSP, said: “Restoring peatlands can really enhance the environment for communities so I’m pleased to launch the lowlands project here in Lanarkshire.
“Open space access improvements, carbon storage and flood prevention are some key benefits of peat restoration.
“The upcoming mosses work can help reduce emissions and will regenerate wildlife habitats including that of the rare Large Heath Butterfly.”