Natural History

Blackhill Mire

Blackhill Mire

Blackhill Mire

Located at the northern edge of Helensburgh, opposite the skating pond, the Blackhill Mire represents one of the last truly natural habitats left in the Green Belt. Although the woodlands in the Green Belt are highly valued, and rightly so, most have a recent plantation origin and represent semi-natural habitats.

Blackhill Mire is owned by Luss Estates and the Helensburgh Golf Club. It is an active lowland raised bog and the dominant plant community is described by the Calluna vulgaris- Eriophorum vaginatum mire (National Vegetation Classification Mire 19). In addition to the Heather – Harestail Cotton-grass vegetation there are areas of Birch, Gorse and wetter bog vegetation with Cranberry and Sundew. Other plants of interest include Blaeberry, Cowberry, Crowberry, Cross-leaved Heath, Purple Moor-grass, Deer-grass, Bog Myrtle, Cow-wheat, Lousewort, several species of SphagnumNarrow Buckler Fern. moss and the largest local colony of

Sundew

Sundew

The site is rich for butterflies and moths. Of particular interest is one of the largest colonies of Green Hairstreak butterflies to be found in South West Scotland and a small population of the Large Heath butterfly. Several moths occur including the Emperor Moth, Light Knot Grass, Glaucous Shears, Clouded Buff, Northern Eggar and Drinker Moth.

Many species of birds find cover at the site and the Roe Deer is an occasional visitor. Frogs and toads that breed in the skating pond also find shelter and food in the damp areas of the Mire.

Under Threat

Green Hairstreak Butterfly

Green Hairstreak Butterfly

The lowland raised bog is one of the most threatened habitats in Scotland. Many have been drained, damaged and ultimately destroyed.

Despite the Blackhill Mire being the most valuable wildlife habitat in the Green Belt it is, sadly, also very threatened and has suffered neglect and damage. In 1991 a section of the Mire was totally destroyed by the creation of the Blackhill Light Industrial Estate, which in 2005 still remains unused and undeveloped. The Helensburgh Golf Club currently has outline planning permission for a golf course extension onto the Mire. To aid this development the Golf Club has undertaken major drainage work at the site by cutting long and deep drainage channels.

Blackhill Mire on site

Blackhill Mire on site

The current damage to the site has affected the wildlife and the Large Heath butterfly is on the verge of being lost. Periodic fire damage, usually the result of vandalism, causes temporary damage but the vegetation can quickly recover from this.

If the current damage to the site was healed the Blackhill Mire would recover totally. Currently, Blackhill Mire contributes a rich biodiversity to the Green Belt. If damage continues the Mire will reach a point at which it would not recover. The Helensburgh Green Belt Group believes its loss would be detrimental to Helensburgh, the local community and indeed to Scotland.