In the 1970s, land owners and tenants across the Highlands were encouraged to ‘improve’ their hill ground with the insertion of open drains across the moors. Substantial government grants were available to cover the costs. Forty years later it is clear that the land did not improve and that the drains simply encouraged erosion of the peat into which they were dug. And peat, we now realise is one of the most important carbon stores in the world – the European equivalent of rain forests.
So grants are now available to to reverse the damage which has been caused by putting peat dams into the drains so that water can no longer flow down the drains and erode the peat.
At Croick we must have hundreds of kilometres of peat drains across the estate so with grant assistance we started the process of reversing the damage by inserting dams into 5 kilometres of drains, focusing on areas of steep ground where the erosion process is likely to cause damage most quickly.
The picture above shows a new new peat dam holding back water and creating a micro-pond. The picture below shows the effect we are looking to create as sphagnum moss colonies the ponds and starts the process of creating new peat.
Inserting the dams without causing further damage to the peat in the process is a skilled task and I’m grateful to our contractor, ‘Shy’ John Farquhar, for his work on this over the past few months.
It is a small start but gives something on which to build and extend in the future.