Give peat a chance: Dee Beat looks at our peat bogs importance

Dee Beat
Dee Beat

I didn’t know too much about peat, apart from when growing up in Orkney our house came with an area of peat that could be cut for the fire.

But after speaking with Stephen Corcoran, Peatland Action Restoration Officer with the Cairngorms National Park, I realise how important peatlands are.

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Jp

Peatlands are vital and offer a long list of benefits.

Peatlands in the UK store over 3 billion tonnes of carbon, twenty times that found in all of Britain’s forests. So they are vital in tackling climate change as they represent Scotland’s single largest carbon store on land. They provide homes for plants and animals, are enjoyed for recreational hill walking and bird watching and are a valuable asset for sporting managers. Peatlands regulate water flow that reduces flooding and purify water thus producing clean drinking water. Peatlands local to the Dee that you may have heard of include Parkins Moss at Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve, Arnhall Moss at Westhill and the Red Moss of Netherley located 3 miles from Stonehaven. Peatlands are in decline as over centuries large areas have been drained and used for development and agriculture resulting in damage. Damaged bogs are a source of climate warming greenhouse gases and reduce water quality.

Work is currently underway in the Dee catchment to improve damaged bogs on Mar Estate as part of the Peatland Action Project using funding from Scottish Natural Heritage. An area of blanket bog on the upper Glen Ey is being restored by re-vegetating bare areas of peat and eroded gullies. This work is all being done by large machines, with some of the restoration techniques being trialled in Scotland for the first time. With enough resources it is possible to restore all of Scotland’s damaged peatlands bringing about significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as well as bringing multiple benefits to wildlife and people. Work on Glen Ey was paused due to snow but will resume this summer. So, it’s not just a bit of dirt, it is actually a very important resource lying just beneath our wellies.

CATCH REPORT: Ross Macdonald

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There were 51 fish reported to FishDee for the week to 9 May. No change on last week’s total and still well below what we deem to be reasonable. There were reports of a several solid looking sea trout to 4lbs- there were 33 of these wonderful fish in the book. We had a good rise in water levels last week, peaking on Wednesday and another rise was underway this morning, so hopefully this sustained water will make a difference over the coming week.

Karl Revel, dropped me a line about his week. ‘Invery/Tilquhillie’s two salmon each of 10lbs were caught in Pantoch and The S-Pool by Terry Turner from Cheshire. Both fish took gold bodied Willie Gunns as did the two daytime seatrout caught by Dickie Oldfield from Wiltshire. This was a meagre return again for a lot of effort but we continue to live in hope of an upturn in catches before too long.’

As always we enjoyed being on our beat, despite the severe lack of fish. Chaz is doing a fantastic job and puts so much hard work into the beat, I know that visiting rods have enjoyed his hospitality and I hope many more get to do so over the coming years. Just the one fish and no other pulls or lost fish.’

Will Peake at Aboyne Castle tells me Mr Cave-Bigley had 2 fish for his week, a liced 8lber and a 4lb grilse, also liced. Eric Wardle also had a grilse of 5lb. The Craigendinnie bank was blank until Saturday when one of the rods landed two from Symnonds and ghillie George Murray had a 10lber from Crofts late on.

Simon Jarman got in touch about his visit to Crathie.

‘Despite decent weather and excellent water levels the only fish we saw were the three we were fortunate enough to connect with. I got the first, about 9lbs, in Old Boat on Wednesday evening. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or the salmon.

The other two came in the last hour on Saturday afternoon, to ghillie Archie Hay, and then with the last cast of the day, to John Fyfe. He very kindly handed the rod to one of the new fishers in the group to play her first salmon, before expertly netting the 7lb fish.’

All week Archie was his usual honest, patient, encouraging and optimistic self. It must be so disheartening for all the guys on the river to keep being positive day in day out, when there are clearly so few fish coming through the beats.’

The ghillies continue to do a fantastic job with their customers. It has been a tough season for them all, and they are a credit to the Dee. I have lost count of the number of anglers that have told me how well looked after they have been during their visit. Tight lines.

Ross Macdonald

Please send any stories, pictures and anecdotes to: ross@riverdee.org