We catch up with Vicky as her internship with us comes to an end.
Hi Vicky, your internship is soon ending – what have you learnt during your time with us?
I know, the time has just flown by! I can’t believe I have been at the Crichton Carbon Centre for 7 months already. I have learnt so much this year, expanded my skillset, built a wider network, and had the opportunity to learn from such incredible, inspiring and hard working people. Firstly I’ve learnt how essential peatlands are not only for carbon storage but for water flow management, and improving water quality at a catchment level. I’ve learnt the ins and outs of designing and implementing peatland restoration plans, attended multiple training events in peatland restoration theory and techniques, done hands on bare peat restoration, presented our work to local educators so they can inspire young people to get involved in peatland restoration, taken part in the spruce plucking world championships, supported an art exhibition for spring fling, and so much more.
Do you have a favourite memory or experience from your internship?
I’ve had so many great experiences I could write about them all forever but I’ll just pick two! In the first couple of months at CCC I took part in a bare peat mentoring scheme run by CCC through Peatland Action. You can read my previous blog post about that where I go into much more detail about the whole experience! One of my other favourite experiences was supporting Kerry, our Peatland Connections project officer, in her peat inspired art exhibition for Spring Fling. Coming from a science background I’ve struggled to appreciate the importance of art in science communication. It was like everything just clicked into place at that exhibition and I fully realised the importance of using art to communicate our message to a wider audience. The art pieces and exhibition space were laid out and displayed in a way that made talking about our work so effortless as each piece perfectly segued into the next, guiding us through a topic which usually is really challenging to explain and understand.
What do you feel has been the biggest success of your internship?
I guess my biggest success was converting my internship to a permanent project officer post! (Spoiler alert!) As this intern post was initially for 7 months I planned to learn as much as I possibly could from everyone at CCC and hopefully be able to get a permanent job somewhere else with the skills and experience gained here. I guess that enthusiasm was noticed and resulted in Emily offering me a permanent post at CCC instead which I am so happy about. On a more practical scale – a big success of the team as a whole was going back to the bare peat site we restored during the mentoring scheme to see our water flow interventions holding water effectively in areas which would previously have dried out! This will give the peat forming plants a chance to revegetate the bare peat, locking the carbon underground for the future. We also saw the success of the geotextile we had installed as cotton grass was already growing through after just a few months.
In your Welcome blog you mentioned never being exposed to peatlands before moving to Scotland. How would you describe peatlands to someone unfamiliar with them?
I usually start off describing peatlands by saying – it’s a bog! You know that completely water saturated land that bounces when you jump on it? The main benefit in today’s landscape is that peatlands are massive stores of carbon. Unlike trees which will sequester carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, the peatlands we have in Scotland have existed for thousands of years locking in tonnes of carbon throughout this time. One of the reasons it’s essential to do peatland restoration now is that degraded peatlands with exposed bare peat can be some of our biggest carbon emitters and we need to revegetate, rewet and restore our peatlands to keep what is left of their carbon locked in the ground. Currently, degraded peatlands account for 13% of all terrestrial emissions in Scotland – which is a staggering figure and shows just how important peatland restoration is in reducing our CO2 emissions. In addition to being huge stores of carbon they are incredible areas for biodiversity, playing host to a wide range of specialist species including carnivorous plants, birds of prey and rare moth species just to name a few. Being large water logged areas of land, sometimes situated in the head waters of river catchments, peatlands are essential in water flow management. They keep our water in the hills all year round and prevent them from drying out in summer and water flows so slowly through them that they help with flood management downstream and in the towns during winter. Peatlands are incredible places and I feel good about my job every day that I’m doing what I can to keep carbon in the ground!
We’re so excited to announce that you will be staying with the Carbon Centre in a full time position. What will you be working on next?
Thank you! I’m currently working on a long term monitoring plan at one of our most important sites in Galloway. This site is called the Moss of Cree and is a beautiful 64 Ha area of formerly afforested bog just south of Newton Stewart. This site was clear felled over a decade ago and left until CCC came in with Peatland Action in 2020 and completed 4 phases of restoration on this site to restore it to a functioning bog system. The plan is to monitor the site for the next 5-10 years and assess the recovery by looking at vegetation, hydrology, scrub encroachment and conifer regeneration. We are also looking into get a specialised drone at CCC to help us with mapping and monitoring our restoration sites which will be very beneficial and so exciting! It’s incredible what you can do with drones these days and we are hoping to revolutionise the way we work by using this technology. All in all very exciting things happening at CCC on top of all our Peatland Action restoration work.
We're so excited to have Vicky with us as a Project Officer where she'll continue to support our work and lead on projects like our Moss of Cree monitoring. Congrats, Vicky!