Fund­ing avail­able now to re­store Scot­land’s dam­aged peat­lands

The Oban Times - - Farming -

SCOT­TISH Nat­u­ral Her­itage (SNH) has urged land own­ers, man­agers, farm­ers, crofters and es­tates to ap­ply for fund­ing to help pro­tect precious peat­lands.

From Shet­land to the Sol­way Firth more than 20 per cent of Scot­land is cov­ered by peat – an area al­most the same size as Wales. Peat­lands pro­vide mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits when main­tained in a healthy condti­tion.

Restor­ing th­ese peat­lands has been made pos­si­ble thanks to ad­di­tional Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fund­ing of £ 8 mil­lion which will see an­other 8,000 hectares of dam­aged peat­lands start their road to re­cov­ery this year.

The Peat­land Action Fund, run by SNH and launched in April, has al­ready had more than £4 mil­lion of ap­pli­ca­tions but wants fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tions be­fore the clos­ing date at the end of Oc­to­ber.

Restora­tion tech­niques start with ‘rewet­ting’ of peat­land, mostly through ditch block­ing.

This re­con­nects peat­lands with wa­ter catch­ments, help­ing to slow river flows and, in some cases, ease down­stream flood­ing.

Other restora­tion tech­niques be­ing tri­alled in­clude peat hag re-pro­fil­ing, re-veg­e­tat­ing bare peat and for­est to pre- ex­ist­ing bog re­cov­ery.

An­drew McBride, the project man­ager, said: ‘Our drink­ing wa­ter comes from th­ese peat­land catch­ment ar­eas, so healthy peat­lands are cru­cial for clean wa­ter.

‘River salmon and trout fish- eries de­pend on clear wa­ter to al­low the de­vel­op­ment of fish eggs laid in the river grav­els.

‘In ad­di­tion, as­so­ci­ated species like fresh­wa­ter pearl mussels ben­e­fit from the peat free wa­ters.

‘Soils are the main ter­res­trial store of car­bon in Scot­land and peaty soils are es­ti­mated to hold the equiv­a­lent of 140 years worth of Scot­land’s to­tal an­nual green­house gas emis­sions. That is an enor­mous store of car­bon and by restor­ing and pro­tect­ing this precious as­set now we can make proac­tive gains to­wards Scot­land’s cli­mate change tar­gets.’

Sun­day was In­ter­na­tional Bog Day 2017 in which the role bogs play in main­tain­ing a healthy en­vi­ron­ment is cel­e­brated.

Cov­er­ing just three per cent of the earth’s land area, they are sec­ond only to oceans in the amount of car­bon they store – twice that held by the globe’s forests.

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