Portmoak Moss – a community of peatland, woodland and people

Portmoak Moss,  is a ‘remnant raised bog’ close to the village of Scotlandwell in Perth and Kinross covering an area of approximately 34 hectares (12 ha of which has been cleared of trees and is in a gradual process of being restored to a raised bog habitat).

The site is owned by the Woodland Trust and the local Portmoak Community Woodland Group are actively involved in managing the site.

Main area of peatland taken from the NE, December 2014 © John Williams

Main area of peatland taken from the NE, December 2014 © John Williams

Woodland Trust officer Gary Bolton, PeatlandACTION project officer Colin Castle and members of the Portmoak Community Woodland Group explain the importance of the site and the valuable restoration work that has been undertaken.

“The Woodland Trust has been working closely with the local community group to manage this amazing site and  improve public access . Visitors can experience a unique variety of  woodland and peatland walks and wildlife.  We look forward to working further with peatlandACTION to maintain the integrity of the raised bog – in particular reprofiling the margins and managing the birch regeneration,” says Gary Bolton.

Colin further describes the value of this site:

“Raised bogs are not common in Central Scotland, at Portmoak Moss historic conifer planting and drainage ditches have contributed to a lowering of the water table and the raised bog was under threat of drying out. PeatlandACTION , who are working to restore peatlands across Scotland, funded management reports on The Moss and the actions required to raise water levels. This ‘rewetting’ has enabled the regeneration of the peat building plant sphagnum moss.  The involvement of the woodland trust and the local community has been invaluable, enabling improved access and day to day monitoring and management.”

Community group member Michael McGinnes explains further:

“In the past Portmoak Moss was once was part of a larger area of uncultivated bog: providing peat, pasture and turf to the local community. It remains an area which is valuable for visitors and where nature can thrive. Access has been improved with a car parking area and a walkway and on site interpretation and a  leaflet available on line enables visitors to learn more about this wonderful natural area.

“We organise regular volunteer events to clear regenerating trees and undertake guided walks to encourage people to get out and about on and around the bog.”

Stump/scrub mulching and ground smoothing

During work - 13 August 2014 ©George Guthrie

During work – 13 August 2014 ©George Guthrie

Removing scrub regeneration, levelling former forest furrows, ridges and tree stump mulching has helped to encourage extensive rewetting across the raised bog.

Although the sight of large diggers working on the moss looked dramatic the stump and scrub mulching and ‘ground smoothing’ as well as the re-profiling of the edge of the moss has enabled extensive re wetting of the bog. Over 170 plastic dams have now been used to block drainage ditches across the site and dipwells to monitor the water level have been put in place. Already there are signs that this work is restoring the peatland benefitting the boggy wildlife!

Apart from providing a place where people can connect with nature the peatland restoration at Portmoak Moss contributes to climate change by ensuring that the carbon rich peatland soils play a part in carbon storage – more than 20% of Scotland is covered in peat holding around 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon – equivalent to 140 years worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions!

North area after mulching and smoothing - April 2018 ©Colin Castle

North area after mulching and smoothing – April 2018 ©Colin Castle

Peat edge re-profiled and vegetated to prevent water loss, drying and further bank erosion/collapse.

Peat edge after re-profiling - April 2018 ©Colin Castle

Peat edge after re-profiling – April 2018 ©Colin Castle

Find out more in the following links:

If you would like to find out more about Peatland ACTION and the practical work we do, visit our website.

The Woodland Trust has more details about the site including a leaflet produced with help from the Community, here.

For more information about ditch blocking, see this video on our YouTube channel.

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