Tuesday 25 June, 2019
10.30 am to 15.30 pm
Meeting point: Corsock Hall, Corsock Village, Dumfries & Galloway, DG7 3DN
From here we will car-share to Knowetops Lochs, a Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve.
Peatlands are a defining feature of Galloway, where they are often known as ‘mosses’ or ‘flowes’. This workshop is about different ways of getting to know these landscapes. It will be led by Kate Foster (environmental artist) and Dr. Emily Taylor (peatland scientist) and we invite you to join us in our respective ways of exploring peatlands. If you are interested in the ecology of peatland restoration and how artists and other creative practitioners can work with this, this workshop is for you. You might want to use the workshop to develop your own theme.
This is the first in a series of workshops to be developed by Peatland Connections, a forthcoming programme of ecological restoration and communication supported by the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership. Emily is project manager for peatland restoration at the Crichton Carbon Centre and a member of the Scottish Peatland Action team. Kate’s project Peat Cultures contributes to this as part of the Galloway Glens programme.
Structure of workshop
10.30 Tea and coffee at Corsock Hall for introductions to the day
11.30 Leave for Knowetops Loch
12 – 2.30 Collectively take a peat core sample
Please bring a picnic lunch
Further investigations, as weather permits
You may want to join the workshop leaders to look closely at the plants growing on the moss via their respective methods, or use this time for your own investigation. There is also an option of contributing practically to the restoration process.
2.30 Return to Corsock Hall for a review of the day, with hot drinks and cake.
Places are free but limited.
In preparation, please think about why you are interested coming to the workshop and how you personally would want to get to know this wetland better. The section below – Themes of the Workshop – draws out some possible connections.
Remember to dress for the weather and wear waterproof footwear.
Please bring your own picnic lunch.
Note the following access restrictions. A network of unsurfaced paths and boardwalks are maintained to provide access across Knowetops Lochs reserve. Please stay on the footpaths. Further information here.
Parking by Knowetops Loch is limited.
With participants’ permission, we would like to document some activities of this workshop. This would contribute to publicity material for Peatland Connections and also Kate Foster’s research project (outlined below).
Please contact Kate Foster to confirm your place, or with any queries.
Themes of the Workshop
Peatlands have long been disregarded, but land managers are becoming increasingly aware that restoring peatland can contribute local benefits as well as help create a more resilient future in this era of climate emergency. Ecologists have shown that they offer a vitally important natural process of carbon sequestration and also are very important for wildlife and the way water flows through a landscape. We can think about the ‘squelch factor’ and how to tell if a peatland is in good condition.
Peatlands are fascinating places in themselves – wild places growing over millennia as bog-mosses create carbon-rich layers of peat from air and rainwater. The Peat Cultures project began with the idea that there are many ways of being knowledgeable about peatlands. Perhaps you may think about mosses and flows in terms of their Gaelic or Scots place-names? Or are you interested in bog archaeology, or medicinal and edible plants? You may be a bird-watcher, or your focus might be landscape photography or painting. Makers and designers also may use peatland products, or find inspiration from mosses and flows. Historically, peat has been dug for fuel using traditional methods; in some areas it is milled industrially. Landscapers and ground-workers have their own vocabulary and methods to describe their work. Environmental scientists use survey methods and a specific terminology to describe peat formation and the different processes at play in wetlands. For a walker, a mountain-biker or hill-runner, the chances are that peatlands are part of your life. We may be aware of mosses tacitly, as a squelchy surface to negotiate – or as a topic of poetry, of creative writing, and of natural histories.
A peat core offers an environmental archive reaching down to the boulder clay deposited when the last glaciers melted. What can be done with this peat core? It is a scientific tool that can also prompt us to imagine a wetland landscape as layers of its former self.
How else can we get to know peatlands better? How can we look attentively, see what processes are at work, and make new connections? How can we also relate to a sense of peatlands strangeness?
You are welcome to join the workshop leaders as they explain their respective methods of looking closely at the plants that make up the living layer of moss. As part of a Masters of Research programme at Edinburgh College of Art, Kate has focused on the scope of drawing to complement Emily’s botanical survey methods. How might we become sensitive to ‘habitat’ as an action space, and think of landscape as ‘overlain living arrangements’ of many different species?
You are also welcome to take this time for your own investigation. Please keep equipment simple, given field conditions and limited time.
Any queries, just get it touch.
If you would like to try Kate’s field-drawing method, please ask for a pack.