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Peat bogs

Blanket bog is a type of peatland found in the uplands. Another type of peat bog in Scotland is raised-bog found in the lowland wetlands.

Blanket bog is only found in few parts of the world with cool, wet, typically oceanic climates. Under these conditions bog mosses and other plants break down very slowly and gradually form a layer of peat. Peat depth varies, with an average between 0.5 and 3 metres but depths of up to 8 metres are not uncommon.

Blanket bog is found throughout the Scottish uplands but is most extensive in the north and west in areas with gentle slopes and poor drainage. It is the habitat that dominates the landscape of the gently undulating moorlands, particularly in the North Highlands and Western and Northern Isles.

Blanket bog is one of the most extensive semi-natural habitats in Scotland, covering some 1.8 million hectares, 23 % of our land area. Blanket bog is a rare habitat globally and Scotland holds a significant proportion of the European and world resource.

Why are peat bogs important?

Peatlands are a living landscape. Peat builds up at different rates and forms patterns of hummocks and hollows. Viewed from the above the wide expanse of peatlands is studded by lochs and lochans.

Our peatlands are lands are known for their moorland breeding birds, and interesting plants, like the insectivorous sundews and butterwort. However, the humble bog moss Sphagnum drives the process of peat formation.

Peat bogs provide benefits for people too:

  • Water supply - much of our drinking water comes from peatland areas and is a key ingredient that adds to the flavour of malt whisky.
  • Flood management - intact peat bogs stores water and help to maintain steady flow rates on salmon rivers as well as reducing flood risks down stream.
  • Sheep grazing - many peatland areas produce store lambs which are sold on for fattening in the lowlands.
  • Recreation - whether its red deer stalking, angling or walking these remote, rolling moorlands provide an experience for visitors that is uniquely Scottish.


Last updated on Friday 1st March 2013 at 12:05 PM. Click here to comment on this page