NEW Cumnock Town Hall hosted an event which was staged by the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative (CEI).

Around 40 guests attended to celebrate the successes of Nature Network, a large-scale environmental project delivered by the group.

Nature Network ran between 2013 and 2018 and was part of EcoCo LIFE, a Central Scotland-wide project aimed at improving ecological connectivity and increasing biodiversity.

Since 2013, Nature Network has delivered 479 hectares of peatland habitat restoration in the East Ayrshire Coalfields.

Volunteers have contributed to wildlife surveys and practical conservation tasks at more than 100 events on the bogs.

A programme of education and engagement has seen the local community involved in a variety of events aimed at raising awareness of these special habitats.

This includes over 900 young people who have participated in hands-on activities ranging from species studies to field trips to their local peat bog.

Cumnock and New Cumnock councillor, Jim McMahon who is member of the CEI Board, chaired the evening which featured talks from CEI Project Manager Daisy Whytock.

Project artwork was on display and the event included the first screening of a specially commissioned project film called Peat, people and partnerships.

As well as members of the public, volunteers and project partners, MP Bill Grant and councillors Jacqui Todd and Billy Crawford, who also represent Cumnock and New Cumnock.

Ms Whytock said: “As Nature Network draws to a close, we were delighted to celebrate our success with our partners, volunteers and the local community.

“The project achieved so much more than anticipated and this is due to the support it received in the local area.

“East Ayrshire has a wealth of important peatland sites and to be able to help improve their ecological condition is a wonderful achievement and will result in benefits for wildlife and people.

“Healthy peatlands support wildlife and are great places to explore.

“When peatlands are in good condition they improve water quality, help prevent flooding and store carbon, playing an important role in climate change mitigation.”

Future plans for the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative were also unveiled, including a new two-year project, called Nature Network Legacy, which will deliver peatland conservation in the East Ayrshire Coalfield area between April 2018 and March 2020.

If you would like to get involved or find our more please contact CEI Project Manager, Daisy Whytock on or 01563 553 513.