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  • Carys Mainprize

Catching Up

Phone screenshot of the camera showing the slope's angle

A 27-degree slope to start the day, anyone?

Welcome back to our blog. We wanted to round up some of the marvellous projects and events we have done recently. A lot of our work revolves around peatland site visits, and Team Peat (Anna, Jack, Lewis, and Emily) have been out and about a lot during the Summer, and more recently it’s been wet again! That’s not really a bad thing, because seeing how the peatland sites operate under rain means we can look at the hydrology much better, and it’s often the hydrology we’re working to fix. Check out the video of entire chunks of peat getting washed away (the floating dark spots passing over the orange-hued background is what to look for) – this is exactly what we need to know is happening, and what we need to fix through restoration work.

emperor moth caterpillar munching on bog myrtle

They have also made other discoveries which get shared back to the wider team, including this emperor moth caterpillar munching on bog myrtle and, less exciting, finds of balloons.

Speaking of moths, Peatland Connections had a moth event a few weeks ago, and you can get a more in depth round up of the event on the website’s blog. Another recent Peatland Connections event was the archaeology fair at Castle Douglas. To prepare, Anna, Lewis, and Kerry went onto a site with very deep peat to take a peat core - you can see the size of the core we took in the expertly annotated photo of the conifer tree below. Eagle eyes will be able to see the extended peat probe next to the white line and tree trunk. Since peat takes a while to form, the further down you go, the further back in time you are, much like an ice core.

Depth of the peat core taken out of the ground - tree for comparison!

Two of Team Peat hard at work getting the peat core.

The peat is cored in 50cm lengths as shown here.

Our peat team were hard at work taking 4+ meters of peat out of the ground in 50cm chunks, which we put together for our timeline at the fair. We proudly told anyone who would listen that we had a piece of peat 4000 years old that was taken out of the ground on Wednesday. We invited members of the public to plant flags of important dates – either personally important, or globally important. One of our favourites was the demonstration of how Cleopatra (born 69AD) is closer to present day than the construction of the Pyramids of Giza (4000 CE).

Our peat core laid out at the fair. Flags planted by the team and the public.

Demonstrating the length of the peat core - almost the length of the room!

In our education work, Carys went along to a first aid for mental health course, as part of the new focus within our education projects to address eco-anxiety and climate apathy. This links nicely with our current education strategy, and the climate education pilot during September.

Carys teaches S1 students about how cities retain heat.

The pilot worked with first year high school students in two schools. We wanted to test how best to deliver a 3 week mini project or experiment to help improve eco anxiety and/or empower our young people to realise they can take climate action in many parts of their lives. Important in this conversation is for them (and us all) to realise this isn’t an all-or-nothing game: they can decide to take one action and not the other, rather than pushing themselves (and burning out) to do both. The sustainability movement can lack nuance at times, and also has issues with classism and ableism, so we hope that starting these discussions at a young age will encourage compassion for their own sustainability journeys, and the journeys of others.

We wanted to work with first year high school students so we could give them the tools to fight eco anxiety before it becomes an unmanageable feeling. It can be tricky to get a lot of sessions with secondary school pupils with all the pressures on their time, especially as they move through the years, but we feel that it is important to have more than one single period with a class. We hope this pilot will help us navigate the logistics of organising climate education with schools and put is in a strong position to work with high schools for the full project.

Jack attended the Natural Capital Finance and Investment conference hosted by the Ecosystems Knowledge Network in Edinburgh. The day was filled with an array of seminars, talks and discussions about public and private nature-based finance and how to make nature restoration economically viable from a local to an international level. There is a HUGE funding gap and substantially more investment in nature is needed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and climate change.

At this conference it was announced that seven pioneering private investment projects to restore nature and improve opportunities for people to access and enjoy it, while mitigating and adapting to climate change, have been awarded Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (IRNS) funding (via NatureScot, Esmée Fairbairn, and Heritage Lottery Fund).

Moss of Cree.

Crichton Carbon Centre are delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding through this fund to deliver a project to recognise the wealth of carbon and biodiversity benefits as a result of the forest-to-bog restoration at Moss of Cree, a lowland raised bog near Newton Stewart. This project will involve working with landowners, ecologists, economists, and investors to secure a positive future for the site and act as a blueprint for future restoration projects.

And in other good news, we recently finalised our updated one-page business plan (we can be succinct on occasion) since we’re moving into our third decade (!) of operation, having started in the 00’s. At our core, as always, we want to repair nature, inspire action, and keep carbon in the ground. It’s useful to make sure all of our projects in development (of which we will one day be able to talk about, promise) follow along with these goals and our values. And to reflect our history, we updated our achievements webpage with a handy timeline of our projects.

We're also so pleased to announce that Biosphere Explorers has been funded for a third time, by Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership and Blackcraig Community Windfarm Fund (administered by Foundation Scotland). Read our blog for more info.

We look forward to seeing what 2023 will bring for the team!

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