More than 20% of Scotland is covered in peat. To help protect and restore this immense resource a project called “Peatland Action” has been underway since 2012 to kick-start peatland restoration and increase understanding of peatlands across the country. Eurosite member Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is partner in this project.
With £8.4 million of funding from the Scottish Government, the project partners have so far managed to restore over 10,000ha of degraded peatland. This has been accomplished by over 150 separate projects in locations ranging from the islands of Shetland to South Scotland. We have worked with private individuals and groups who are becoming aware of not only the benefits of peatland restoration for climate change, but also the benefits for fisheries, shooting, flood management, water supply and general biodiversity.
Many of Scotland’s peatlands are in the mountains. Often it is not until you are up on such a wetland that you realise the scale and amount of vegetation that is lost due to degradation. However looking at the total of 10,000ha that have started their road to restoration, then even within a relatively short time, we can see water levels rising, bare peat reprofiled, and living carpets being created.
The benefits of restoring such peatlands are considerable. Restoration allows peatlands to continue acting as a really significant carbon sink. In fact, Scottish peat soils contain as much carbon as all other plant life in the UK. Restoring our peatlands also helps the areas regulate water flow and water quality, provides a place for sport and recreation (such as stalking and hill walking) and conserves internationally important wildlife habitats.
In the future we will embed the data and knowledge that has been collected during recent restoration to increase our understanding of wetlands and the role they play in our environment. We will also continue to support, advise and provide restoration guidance in order to help achieve the ambitious targets for Scotland’s peatlands.
If you have a potential project that you would like to discuss, or you have a request for information or data, please contact Iain Sime.
Photo: An eroded gully being repaired in Scotland © Stephen Corcoran, Cairngorms National Park Authority