Our Nature Ninjas pulling up trees that are drying out the bog at Abronhill. c. Paul Barclay

COP26 is finally here and the eyes of the world are on Scotland and on climate change like never before. With a looming global emergency it’s easy to feel helpless but here in Cumbernauld we have something that could be a key weapon in our fight against climate change.

I’m talking about peat bogs, collectively the biggest carbon sink in the world. And we have a surprising amount of them here – in Abronhill, Ravenswood, and Pallacerigg to name a few. In fact there are around 3724 hectares of peat bogs across North Lanarkshire. Peat is a soil-like substance that is made up of partially decomposed plants which have accumulated on top of each other in waterlogged conditions. Bogs take thousands of years to form but can be destroyed in a matter of months, with many of them being torn up to supply garden centres with bags of cheap compost.

Cumbernauld Living Landscape is working with the Council, through its Brilliant Bogs project, to help restore raised peat bogs at some of the town’s key greenspaces. Bogs need to be really wet to survive, so we’ll be clearing encroaching scrub that sucks the water out of them, and damming old drainage ditches to keep the water in. By holding on to water, bogs are also great at flood control!

Damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, because as they dry out they release the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that they had been storing. But despair not – there is something we can do. The Peat Free Campaign encourages gardeners, as the title suggests, to go peat-free. This means buying only compost and plants that are labelled as peat-free, or alternatively making your own compost. Composted wood materials such as bark and sawdust are great alternatives. If your garden centre doesn’t stock peat free compost, ask them why not. Let’s protect our bogs for peat’s sake!

Katie Brown