Nature Notes 8 December 2020

Local landowners and volunteers, Cuilcagh

Observations from staff and members on our Nature Reserves this week.

Nature reserves may look completely wild, but our 19 reserves across Northern Ireland are actually carefully managed by a dedicated team. We protect, restore and create a mix of habitats where wildlife can thrive.

Bog Meadows Nature Reserve

Our European Solidarity Corps volunteers were training at Bog Meadows yesterday in hedgelaying, a countryside craft that was once widespread in Ireland.

It involves partly cutting through the hedgerow stems near ground level so that they will bend without breaking and continue to grow. This causes new growth at the stump, thickening the base and rejuvenating the hedge.

This method of rejuvenating a hedge can extend its lifespan almost indefinitely and it provides a great habitat for many wild birds, small mammals, plants and insects. ~ Deborah McLaughlin, Community Engagement Officer

Bog Meadows, hedgelaying training

Bog Meadows, hedgelaying training

Cuilcagh Mountain

Not an Ulster Wildlife nature reserve, but one of the many peatland sites we are helping to restore across NI as part of the Collaborative Action for Natura Network (CANN) project. 

Our European Solidarity Corps volunteers and Nature Skills trainees helped our peatlands team install coir logs/rolls within gullies of eroded blanket bog on Cuilcagh Mountain in Co. Fermanagh. This area of blanket bog has became badly eroded over the years with deep gullies and bare peat, which is being washed into the water and emitting carbon into the atmosphere.

These coir logs are installed as leaky dams within the gullies. They allow water to slowly flow through, at a much reduced rate, and catch the sediment. Once the water is slowed down, the plants can start to take hold on the bare peat and stabilise it.

The volunteers and trainees had to carry these logs, which can weigh as much as 27kg, from piles that were lifted up by helicopter and then install them in overlapping rows across the gullies. They first dig a trench in the peat and then lay the coir log into it before hammering in wooden stakes either side to secure it.

They helped us install this fish scale pattern in one of the worst areas, and you can already see some of the water that’s begun to build up behind it! ~Simon Gray, Senior Technical Officer

Peatland restoration on Cuilcagh Mountain

Peatland restoration on Cuilcagh Mountain