Over the past 7-8 years or so, there has been an interesting project taking place around Flanders Moss in west Stirlingshire to reduce deer damage to agriculture and the natural heritage. Although there isn’t a woodland angle as such in terms of objectives, trees have driven the situation to a very large extent, and the dynamic created has produced huge swathes of native woodland regeneration which are actually a real problem for all concerned. The following article sets out the context and past history. It takes some time to get to the tree bit, but the little tree twist at the end is interesting and will resonate with others elsewhere in Scotland.
Victor Clements, Chair of the Flanders Moss Deer Management Forum and native woodland advisor writes:
Flanders Moss lies on the western part of the Carse of Stirling. It is a raised bog sitting on an otherwise flat landscape and is perhaps the best known and important lowland bog habitat in the country, being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and also as a National Nature Reserve (NNR). NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) owns a relatively small part of the moss, with the majority of the area being owned by the surrounding farms and one sizeable estate.
The surrounding farmland is very fertile, and the area is well known for its ability to produce both livestock and crops. The upper River Forth winds its way through the area. Centuries ago, much of the area was covered in deep peat, but it was “improved” by cutting the peat, taking it to the Forth by horse and cart, and effectively just floating it all away, revealing the mineral soil beneath. An astonishing effort, and unlikely to be approved off today. The result is a very flat, fertile landscape, in which drainage is very important, supporting a large number of relatively small farms, the majority of whom are owner occupiers. Flanders Moss itself sits as a low, flat dome, slightly above this landscape. In many ways, it is counter-intuitive that the higher area should be wetter than the lower surrounding land, but this is the reality, and it has implications for the issues now at hand.Continue reading “Deer, farmers, bogs and trees”