The distinctive eye-spotted Large Heath butterfly thrives in boggy environments, habitats that are under threat from drainage, construction and climate change causing the species to decline drastically.

But a band of volunteers who dedicate their spare time to regenerating central Scotland's peatlands have helped the species survive.

The Bog Squad was set up in 2014 by Butterfly Conservation Scotland to carry out rehabilitation works on damaged peat bogs from Ayrshire to Fife.

That same year, thanks to the frontline work of these climate crusaders, three Large Heath butterflies were found on sites of Special Scientific Interest for the first time.

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David Hill, peatland restoration officer at Butterfly Conservation Scotland, told The Herald: " It’s been fantastic to work with so many enthusiastic volunteers over the last six years. Lowland bogs are such wonderfully rich places for wildlife. Added to that their potential value in battling climate change makes restoring them a real win-win both for wildlife and people.

"Many lowland bogs throughout central Scotland become refuges for wildlife as agricultural intensification and urbanisation happens around them. The Bog Squad was developed to try and look after these places species of butterfly rely on."

Scotland's peatlands are a vital carbon sinks holding down vast stores of carbon accumulated over thousands of years. It is estimated that the bogs store around 1.7 billion tonnes - equivalent to 140 years of Scotland's anticipated carbon emissions.

But these areas, and the wildlife they support, are at risk through damage caused by attempts at drainage and burning, causing them to become carbon emitters.

Numbers of the Large Heath butterfly have dropped by 50% since 1976, while other rare species including the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Green Hairstreak, and the rare Bog Sun Jumper spider that live in lowland bog habitats could be under threat too.

Mr Hill said: "Because they've been damaged, scrub develops on them which threatens the wildlife and vegetation that's unique to them, so without coming along and removing the scrub the peat gets damaged and the vegetation that helps form the peat isn't able to and wildlife, like the butterflies and other invertebrates, are threatened."

The restoration work carried out by the 300 Bog Squad members include blocking old drainage ditches and removing water-sapping invasive scrub, allowing Sphagnum mosses, the driving force behind peat formation to flourish once again.

Funded by Peatland ACTION, Scottish National Heritage (SNH)'s peatland restoration programme that has been running since 2012, the Bog Squad have carried out work at 26 bogs across Scotland, improving 330 hectares of peatlands.

Working with landowners, SNH and Peatland ACTION to identify sites and what work is needed on them, the Bog Squad visit some areas only once or twice, and others more frequently. They are always looking for new sites to work on and ways to develop the project.

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The news that the Scottish Government has committed to investing £20 million for peatland restoration, with a further £250 million injection over the next 10 years, was greeted enthusiastically by Butterfly Conservation Scotland.

Mr Hill said: "It is fantastic news and an amazing, world-leading commitment.

"Butterfly Conservation Scotland warmly welcomes the Scottish government’s announcement in the budget that peatland restoration measures will receive £20m next year, up by £6m. We are particularly pleased that the funding will continue for at least 10 years, allowing peatland restoration techniques to be refined, and for businesses engaged in restoration to acquire the right machinery and train their staff. This will be a significant improvement in our ability to conserve these areas which are so valuable for wildlife, for purifying water, and for locking up carbon.”

Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes, who delivered the budget, said: "“The global climate emergency is at the centre of our Programme for Government and we have already put in place the most ambitious climate legislation and targets of any country. This Budget will help deliver on that wold-leading ambition.

“From increased investment in low carbon transport to funding for peatland restoration and forestry, this Budget sets out our spending plans to help us deliver the transformation we need across society to transition to net-zero.