About Portmoak Community Woodland
We are a community steering group which helps the Woodland Trust Scotland to manage Portmoak Moss and Kilmagad Wood. The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 19:30 in the Well Country Inn, Scotlandwell. All our meetings are open to the public. In practice, there are usually around a dozen regular members who attend most of the meetings and organise tasks and events. The membership has changed and evolved over the years but usually consists of people who enjoy conservation work and socialising. Events range from birch pulling and controlling Himalayan balsam to an annual apple day and Burns ceilidh. The WTS, who own the woods, draw up five year management plans and the group liaises between them and the community.
Portmoak Moss and Kilmagad Wood
Portmoak Moss was purchased by the Woodland Trust Scotland in 1996 with funds obtained through grant aid from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, in addition to community based fundraising. Since 1996, entrance and path-works, including an all-abilities loop, have upgraded access to the wood.
In 1998, a second woodland, Kilmagad Wood, was purchased by the community in association with the Woodland Trust. This is linked to Portmoak Moss by a circular walking route, the Michael Bruce Way.
In 2004 and 2005 major felling of the old commercial plantation on the raised moss was completed. Damming of the drainage ditches has raised the water table.
In 2008 a third area of land was purchased. This is lower on the hillside than Kilmagad Wood, running from the road up to Kilmagad. For many years it has provided rough grazing - our plan is to plant it with trees and include paths and viewing areas in it, leading the way higher up the hill.
In 2009 and 2010 we got on with planting the lower hillside site with trees and shrubs - all natural species that you would expect to see in Scotland. We had some great days and enjoyed the involvement of local schools and several community groups.
In 2011 we planted out a community orchard with many species of apples, pears, cherries and plums. As part of the planting we also ran a course on pruning fruit trees which was well attended by many local people.
In 2012 we organised a Boginar which brought together a number of experts in various aspects of the restoration, management and development of bogs and mosses will gather to discuss options for Portmoak Moss. Topics include
biodiversity, habitat, ecology, hydrology and community engagement. We also had a Christmas tree event which was well attended by the local community.
In 2013 a major result from the Boginar was a significant grant from SNH to raise the water table further by improved damming and also to deal with birch regeneration. We also ran a course on fruit tree pruning in our community orchard, held a butterfly day with Butterfly Conservation Scotland and a lantern event with the Woodland Trust. We also had another Christmas tree event.
In 2014 it was ‘mulched’, thanks to money from Peatland Action, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage. The tree stumps were broken up and the surface made more even. The PCWG commissioned a management report on future options for making the Moss more sustainable. The Group were able to match funding from the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership, which administered Heritage Lottery Fund money.
In 2016 parts of the steep-sided bank on the southern and eastern edges of the central dome were re-profiled, to prevent bog bursts and the collapse of the sides. This was thanks to the LLLP and matched funding from PCWG.
What will happen next
On Portmoak Moss, the branches and smaller stems left after the felling are called brash. It can a look bit of a mess but actually it is a good place for wildlife and is important in the regeneration process. Large numbers of invertebrates, like wood-boring beetles, make their homes in brash, as do small mammals and some birds. The brash is slowly being broken down by fungi and insects which in turn become part of the food chain, greatly increasing the bio-diversity of the Moss. The water level has risen, as planned, and eventually this will limit the regeneration of unwanted species and favour bogland species. The current battle is to keep birch from overrunning the cleared ground - this is achieved by a campaign each summer, but we hope that after several years there will be no more viable seeds in the ground.
Portmoak Moss leaflet
The Woodland Trust Scotland have produced a leaflet on Portmoak Moss.