Help Protect our Peatlands
Have you seen the Transition Linlithgow bed at the Vennel with its frogs, dragonfly and Golden Plover ?
The bed this year is all about protecting our precious peatlands. Peatlands are so important for so many reasons. They form 20% of Scotland’s landmass. There are the great bogs of the North and West but many people don’t realise that West Lothian has several such as at Tailend Moss near Bathgate (see photo) and Longridge Moss. They are formed from the growth of plants such as Sphagnum mosses which favour water-logged and acid places. When they die they don’t rot away but sink into the water to form peat. Peat accumulates very slowly, taking 1000 years to lay down 1 metre. Bogs can be many metres deep and if excavated will not regrow in our life-time.
Peatlands are important for carbon capture, especially with global warming. Peatlands absorb rainfall, help to reduce flooding and keep water pure. They also provide special habitats for wildlife - plants, birds and insects. But 80% of Scotland’s peatland has been damaged by drainage for agriculture, by forestry plantations, and the extraction of peat for horticulture and also burning. This damage causes the peat to dry out, to erode and break down to release carbon dioxide back into the environment. This contributes to climate change. The invasion of trees and people using peat for garden compost also destroys the rich diversity of wildlife.
So what can be done? Restoration is being carried out with support from the Scottish Government, involving landowners, industry and conservation organisations. On many nature reserves, rigid sheets are driven into the peat to hold back the water and so prevent drying out. Gardeners can help by using alternatives to peat-based composts. Linlithgow’s DIY and local garden centres all stock good quality peat-free composts which produce excellent results. Or why not get involved and support wildlife conservation organisations such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust. www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk
This bed has been supported by the Lothians Group of the Scottish Wildlife Trust; while planning, planting and maintaining is being done by volunteers from Transition Linlithgow and Burgh Beautiful to whom making thanks are given. Our design with plants, grasses, knitting and sculptures has had to represent a peat-bog, since we could hardly dig up and damage the very habitat we seek to protect. We hope the heathery clumps, sedges and grasses help to encourage folk to respect the importance of peatlands and enjoy visiting the real thing.
There is lots you can do: buy peat-free compost or make your own and save on buying; support Scottish Wildlife Trust, visit local reserves, come to the Vennel bed on Sunday 23 July and learn more about the importance of bogs or join Transition Linlithgow or Burgh Beautiful. We are always looking for more volunteers. See us on Facebook or www.lbt.scot/burgh-beautiful and transitionlinlithgow.org.uk
International Bog Day will be held on Sunday 23 July when there will be Question and Answer
sessions by the Vennel bed at 11 and 12 am and again at 2 and 3pm.
Come and see what else is going on that day.
Photographs by Gavin Stewart