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Flow Country appoints World Heritage Site Officer

Date: 27 Jun 2018

The Peatlands Partnership has just appointed Joe Perry as their World Heritage Site Officer to take forward the idea of The Flow Country in Sutherland and Caithness becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS). 

Flow Country © Lorne Gill/SNHJoe is moving to the Highlands from Glasgow where he been working as a Project Manager for an environmental tour and experiences company that aims to connect young people in Scotland with our natural and cultural heritage.  In addition to an honours degree in history, Joe has a MSc in Environment, Heritage and Policy.

The Flow Country is an area of deep peat, dotted with bog pools, that blankets much of Caithness and Sutherland. The Flow Country is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe and covers about 200,000 hectares. A recent academic study has described The Flow Country as being “the best peatland of its type in the world”. 

The idea that the Flow Country could be inscribed as a World Heritage Site has been investigated by The Peatlands Partnership for some time and the area has been on the UK’s Tentative List of WHS since 1999.

A World Heritage Site Working Group was set up by the Partnership in 2017 this short-life working group is independently chaired by Mrs Frances Gunn of The Highland 3rd Sector Alliance and will have a fixed purpose to develop and submit a Technical Evaluation to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by the summer of 2019. 

A Technical Evaluation is essentially a scaled-down version of a ‘nomination’ (application) to UNESCO and is assessed by an independent panel. Whilst it is the Peatlands Partnership’s aspiration that The Flow Country becomes inscribed as a World Heritage Site, it is DCMS which will decide whether the case is sufficiently robust to nominate the site to UNESCO.

A considerable amount of work is required to complete the process and Joe Perry has just been appointed to assist the Working Group in delivering this. 

The Working Group has to carry out three main tasks which will take up to 18 months to complete:

  • Develop a boundary for the proposed WHS in consultation with a wide range of community and other interests.
  • Carry out an extensive community consultation covering all aspects of what a WHS could mean to local communities.
  • Complete all the reports and information required to support the Technical Evaluation and submit this to DCMS in the summer of 2019.