As part of her work with Friends of Langlands Moss, Maureen Potter spends a lot of time visiting schools.

“Whenever I hear the pupils are studying the Amazon rainforest, I think – that’s great, but why not study peat
bogs as well?” she says. “Teaching children about these valuable habitats, which exist right on their own doorsteps,
would help to raise awareness of just how important they are.

“Peatbogs are Scotland’s equivalent of the rainforests.”

Recent news about the restoration of more than 600 hectares of peat bog across Ayrshire’s old coalfields is music to Potter’s ears. The community organisation she helped to found has been leading the way in peatland restoration for more than a decade.

East Kilbride Connect: Maureen Potter’s efforts are also helping local community groups.Maureen Potter’s efforts are also helping local community groups.

Friends of Langlands Moss is now taken seriously by everyone from the Scottish Government to the British Ecological Society and its patron is eminent geology professor and TV presenter Professor Iain Stewart.

Langlands Moss, on the southern edge of East Kilbride, is a lowland peat bog, formed around 8,000 years ago. Peat
bogs are carbon sinks, storing up natural carbon which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

More than 20 per cent of Scotland’s land area is covered in peaty soils but large areas have been damaged over
centuries. According to Scottish Natural Heritage’s Peatland Action, the carbon locked up in Scottish peatland soils is equivalent to 140 years’ worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Langlands Moss is also a Local Nature Reserve and a much-loved and valued community resource used by local
residents, groups and schools. With the help of funding from a variety of sources over the years, the group has repaired paths, created a wildflower meadow, installed seating and signs, built dams to keep the peat wet and introduced ponds to encourage frogs, toads and newts.

East Kilbride Connect: Photo credit of Langlands Moss John McIntyre McIntyre Photo credit of Langlands Moss John McIntyre McIntyre

It has not been an easy road at times – concerns about creeping development in the area, coupled with two devastating fires in quick succession which destroyed the group’s recently installed £100,000 boardwalk, have been
particular challenges.

But Potter, fellow founder members Alan Franklin and Yvonne McWilliams and the rest of the volunteers who run
FoLM, are undeterred, and remain keen to ensure their work continues to benefit biodiversity, the environment and local people.

A second peat bog, estimated to be around 10m deep and 10,000 years old has been discovered, along with peat
pockets throughout the woodland. The boundary of the Local Nature Reserve is now being extended from the original 17 hectares to 45 hectares and a bank of conifer trees is being removed and replaced with a mosaic of native woodland.

Plans for a restored boardwalk are under way, which will combine with the newly installed woodland paths to create
a network of forest walks. “It’s a lovely place to visit, but it’s also really important in the fight against global warming,” explains Potter. “If the peatbog is wet, it keeps the carbon in, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Peat bogs help to keep the atmosphere cool.”

East Kilbride Connect: Picture taken by Fiona McGrevey on the last Bog Squad day. Picture taken by Fiona McGrevey on the last Bog Squad day.

She adds: “The flora and fauna of the site is incredible too – as well as the sphagnum mosses which make the bog
function, you can see cross-leaved heath, cranberry and round-leaved sundew, and rarer plants like blueberry,
crowberry and cloudberry.

“We see lots of butterflies and many birds, from meadow pipits and skylarks to buzzards and tits, and deer and otters are regular visitors.”

It is a source of great pride for Potter and her fellow volunteers that Langlands Moss has become a flagship conservation project in South Lanarkshire. It was one of the first community conservation groups in the region, and there are now more than 30. Malcolm Muir, Countryside and Greenspace Manager for South Lanarkshire Council, says: “We couldn’t do our job without groups like FoLM.

“They have done fantastic work over the years. Langlands Moss is a particularly nice accessible recreational area on the edge of the town but much more than that, it provides an opportunity to help people understand the importance of peatlands as a carbon store.

“There are around 130,000 tonnes of carbon stored at Langlands – that is equivalent to the entire annual carbon
output of South Lanarkshire.” FoLM is in great demand from organisations keen to hear about its successful work.

In recent months, Potter explains, she has been invited to speak at the International Union for Conservation of Nature conference in Balloch, about the role of volunteers in peatland restoration; and she has received requests for more information about the Moss from groups as diverse as rural colleges looking into habitat training, to Scouts and Guides, natural history societies and local health groups.

“Walking, being in the fresh air, getting away from the everyday has real benefits to physical and mental health,”
says Potter, who first fell in love with the Moss many years ago, walking and working in the nature reserve with her
husband Ian. When he died suddenly, aged 68, she continued to find solace and “breathing space” at Langlands.

“There are so many benefits of the Moss,” she says. “It’s good for the environment and good for your health.

And as a group, we feel very proud we have given the people of South Lanarkshire something to value and enjoy.”

For more information on The Friends of Langlands Moss please visit www.friendsoflanglandsmoss.org or join thei Facebook group.

East Kilbride Connect:

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