Since trees have been felled there has been a recovery of the blanket bog vegetation however the plant species involved and the speed of recovery is variable. At most sites where the conifer crop was low-yielding or young there has been a rapid re-growth of purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). In most cases purple moor-grass was already present under the conifer crop however its cover was low due to shading effects of the tree canopy. The removal of the conifer crop has generally resulted in the rapid recovery of the bog vegetation with up to 90% cover of purple moor-grass achieved in less than 3 years at some sites.
Recovering bog with windrows
At sites dominated by older, taller conifers the tree cover had almost completely killed off the original blanket bog vegetation. As a result, the recovery of blanket bog vegetation in such areas has been slow and patchy. At these sites there is a greater risk of colonization by plant species not typical of blanket bog habitats such as rush species (mainly Juncus effusus and J. bulbosus) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta).
Whilst the regeneration of shrub and tree species at restored sites has generally not been a major problem, some natural regeneration of downy birch (Betula pubescens), willow (Salix spp.) and lodgepole pine has occurred in areas where either the peat cover was shallow or the conifer crop was heavy. This natural regeneration of unwanted species has been controlled as part of the project and will be controlled into the future.
Birch regeneration at Garrane
The future monitoring of permanent quadrats will reveal important information regarding the changes in the cover of the various recolonizing plant species. It is hoped that as the bog areas continue to re-wet, plant species more typical of very wet, undisturbed peatland systems, e.g. black bog rush (Schoenus nigricans) and white-beaked sedge (Rhynchospora alba) will successfully recolonize and spread.