WORK has been completed on the second phase of a major project to restore peat bogs on Luss Estates in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

The joint project between the National Park Authority and Luss Estates, saw six weeks of work carried out over an area of 80 hectares on Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill, above Glen Luss.

Scotland’s peat bogs store ten times the carbon of all Britain’s forests combined – the equivalent of 1620 million tonnes. In addition, bogs in good condition are great regulators of water, as they can store and release water slowly and steadily, lowering flood risk.

The £65,800 project, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage’s Peatland ACTION fund, involved reprofiling peat hags, and also blocking gullies, building peat dams and establishing vegetation over areas of bare peat in order to prevent peat from drying out and releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

The project included the trial of innovative Sphagnum plug planting on two areas of bare peat. This is a new method for getting Sphagnum moss to recolonise areas of bare peat by taking clumps of the moss from healthy areas and planting it at a rate of around four clumps per square metre in hollows stamped into the bare peat, which needs to have a high water table, restored by putting in dams to hold back water on the site.

Luss Estates and the National Park Authority successfully collaborated on the first phase of work in 2015 with a similar area of peat restored. It is hard now to see where the bare peat previously existed as these areas have successfully recolonised and vegetated peat now blankets the hillside in these restored areas.

Park director of conservation Simon Jones said: “Peatlands take thousands of years to form, but with the rapidly changing climate it’s absolutely vital that we take action to protect and restore them now.

“Working in partnership with landowners in order to tackle the effects of climate change is one of our key aims so we are delighted to be working with Luss Estates on the second phase of this project. This is a great example of how we can work with and support land managers across the National Park to deliver projects that provide environmental and public benefits.”

Luss chief executive officer Simon Miller commented: “Luss Estates is committed to protecting and preserving the environment and peatland restoration not only enhances the carbon storage capacity of the land but also has flood prevention and water quality benefits. We would strongly encourage other landowners to work alongside Scottish Natural Heritage to facilitate further restoration.”

The work has been carried out by contractors, Highland Conservation, where director Andrew Coleman added: “The work was not without its challenges being at an altitude of over 600 metres (2000 ft). The task of getting men and machinery up onto the ridge between Beinn Dubh and Mid-hill was achieved using specialised excavators and all-terrain vehicles capable of traversing the steep and fragile ground with operators who have many years of experience working ‘on the hill’.

“The contract went very smoothly despite some very wet days, and we would like to thank Luss Estate for their help and co-operation throughout the contract and to the many walkers who must have been somewhat surprised to find two excavators on the ridge before them!”