This year has been an extremely busy one on the reserve but the hard work is already reaping rewards for nature.
Staff were delighted to see some exciting newcomers at the site in the summer - keeled skimmer dragonflies – and hear the call of frogs and toads from the reserve’s wet flushes.
It follows restoration work carried out on a further 80 hectares of hillside, including blocking old drainage ditches with peat dams to slow down the water flow across the slopes.
Holding water on the site helps to promote the formation of sphagnum mosses, the building blocks of the blanket bog.
The reserve team also planted 2,000 broadleaf trees between the Clints of Dromore and the Big Water of Fleet, with more planting ongoing.
Meanwhile, work to turn four pasture fields into wildflower meadows is underway, with the first small blooms visible this summer, while bracken control has been carried out to make room for other plants and their accompanying birds, bees and bugs.
Suzanne McIntyre, NatureScot reserve manager, said: “From peatland restoration to tree planting, a huge amount of work has gone into improving habitats at Cairnsmore this year.
“We’re really pleased to have seen some early results already, including the return of some species, but we know we have to be patient as the transformation will take a few years.
“It has been a busy and rewarding year and we are looking forward to the when we can begin this cycle of work again.”
NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska added: “This year has been another challenging one for many.
"Throughout the ongoing pandemic our beautiful reserves have helped people to enjoy spending time out of doors and connect with nature, and we want to thank everyone who helped us to safeguard these special places for future generations by treading lightly on their visit.”