Glen Affric, located to the west of Loch Ness in Scotland, contains a number of BDS Priority Sites and is a SSSI, with its dragonfly assemblage being a noted feature. The site is also home to the White-faced Darter, Azure Hawker and Northern Emerald, listed as Endangered, Vulnerable and Near Threatened respectively on the IUCN Red List.
Glen Affric is an area where previous management practices caused damage to the Glen Affric peatland but the BDS are now working to change this, in partnership with the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Trees for Life (TfL), the National Trust for Scotland and North Affric Estate.
Peatland covers more than 20% of Scotland's land area, but it has been estimated that 70% of the blanket bog and 90% of the raised bog area in Scotland has been damaged to some degree. Peatlands have a number of valuable functions which are now recognised as important. They are a vital carbon store in their undamaged condition, but in a degraded state they release climate warming greenhouse gases. Peatlands are also the source of the majority of the UK's drinking water, can regulate water flow and mitigate against flooding. Last but not least, they are a valuable habitat harbouring important, and often rare, wildlife.
The Project So Far
In Autumn 2015, a trial of various peatland restoration techniques was carried out, funded by the Peatland Action Fund (PAF). Techniques included the use of an excavator to block and re-profile eroded peat hags on open moorland and work to block drainage channels on a former plantation site. Aerial photography and site visits have been used to evaluate the areas that future work should concentrate on. It is hoped this will also include small islands of restored bog pools within the forest which will provide potential habitat links between current populations of Odonata and extend their range. Local landowners were also invited to an open day to see the results of this work and to encourage them to undertake similar projects on their land.
Time and effort given by volunteers was vital in completing much of this work.
The next stage of the project is due to begin in October 2016 and we welcome all volunteers wishing to take part, regardless of experience.
A series of practical volunteer tasks will begin at the end of October. The aim is to work with volunteers on sites which were previously used as forestry plantations, blocking the drainage ditches to retain the water and removing small trees which would dry out the wetland, thus restarting the natural peatland creation processes. The volunteers will also be shown how to identify and record dragonfly species.
Upcoming Work Parties
For all work parties:
Contact: Colin Hall, Scottish Group Area Co-ordinator: Contact person by email
Requirements: Please wear old, warm clothes and bring waterproofs and wellies or sturdy boots as it will be a muddy task (but great fun of course!). Bring your lunch, some water and a hot drink.