Fen and peatland

Fens tend to be clustered in Galloway. The Wood of Cree RSPB reserve is one of the best examples of hydroseral bog/fen development in Scotland. Vegetation, such as the nationally scarce Elongated Sedge Carex elongate, provides essential cover for mammals, such as Water Shrew Neomys fodiens and Water Vole Arvicola terrestris. Fens are also important for bats, migratory and breeding birds, due to the emergent insects found in this habitat.

There is a significant proportion of the UK’s raised bog area in Dumfries and Galloway, including examples along the Solway and the Cree. This habitat has suffered in the past due to peat extraction, conversion to forestry and lowered water levels. Primary bogs, which have remained relatively undisturbed, are rich in Sphagnum communities and support characteristic species such as Bog Rosemary Andromeda polifolia, Cranberry Vaccinium oxycoccos and sundews. The Large Heath Coenonympha tullia butterfly is strongly associated with raised bogs which provide abundant sources of both the larval foodplant Hare’s-tail Cottongrass Eriophorum vaginatum and the adults favoured nectar plant Cross-leaved Heath Erica tetralix.

A second type of bog habitat in the region is blanket bog. This occurs at altitudes from 70 metres above sea level (such as the Wigtownshire mosses) to nearly 700 metres (on the Merrick Kells and Moffat Hills). It is characteristic of the wettest areas in the UK. A number of wading birds species, such as Curlew Numerius arquata and Dunlin Calidris alpina, are associated with this habitat, as are rare dragonflies like the Azure Hawker Aeshna caerulea. It can also be important for Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix whose young feed on Cotton Grass Eriophorum vaginatum.

The Local Biodiversity Action Plan identifies fens, raised bogs and blanket bogs as priority habitats.

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