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Scottish Government sets peatlands on route to recovery

Date: 15 Mar 2017

The Scottish Government today announced funding of £8 million over the next year to support peatland restoration under the Peatland Action scheme. The announcement was made by Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on a visit to Scottish Wildlife Trust's Red Moss of Balerno nature reserve in Edinburgh. It follows proposals in Scotland’s draft Climate Change Plan for 250,000 hectares of peatlands to be restored by 2032, by providing a fund that communities and land managers can apply for. 

Gully reprofiling in Cairngorms National Park - Credit Stephen Corcoran

The draft Climate Change Plan sets out to drive up peatland restoration rates to increase their capacity as natural carbon sinks, whilst also bringing wider benefits for biodiversity and water. There is a commitment to providing sufficient finance to fund at least 20,000 hectares of peatland restoration per year from 2018/19; double that proposed for 2017/18. The plan also recognises the importance of ensuring land managers are fully equipped to help look after our peatlands and proposes accompanying measures including training on peatland restoration. The role of the private sector is also recognised and support is given for the Peatland Code as a mechanism to help attract private finance alongside Scottish Government funding.

The peatland restoration targets and commitments to funding are all aimed at delivering Scotland’s National Peatland Plan and its vision that by 2050 Scotland’s peatlands will be thriving habitats, sustaining a diverse ecosystem, sequestering carbon and supporting rural skills and employment.

Ms Cunningham said:

“Restoring our peatlands and taking advantage of their value as a natural resource is crucial if we are to continue to build on our world leading low carbon ambitions, and reduce emissions by 66% by 2032. By increasing our investment more communities will be able to transform and use peatlands as an open space, regenerating it as a habitat for wildlife and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Since 2013 our peatland restoration work has already transformed more than 10,000 hectares with the new funding set to deliver a step change in our approach by restoring 8,000 hectares in 2017-18 and ultimately lead to our goal of 250,000 by 2032.”

Clifton Bain, IUCN UK Peatland Programme Director, said:

“The announcement of new funding for Peatland Action is fantastic news. The Scottish Government has provided a master class in providing the leadership, direction and tools for tackling one of our most urgent environmental challenges. We have a national peatland plan, clear policies and a commitment to funding. On top of all that Peatland Action has shown that we have the skills and techniques, and more importantly the support of people to ensure our peatlands are brought into a healthy condition, helping avoid the costly consequences of leaving them in a degraded state.”

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will deliver the fund on behalf to the Scottish Government. Andrew McBride, SNH Peatland Action Manager said:

“This is wonderful news for our peatlands and our wildlife, as well as for tourism and rural jobs. The extra investment will almost double the amount of peatlands we can restore, and also get more people aware and involved in taking care of this valuable natural resource.

“Peatland Action has worked closely with a wide range of land managers and communities. From this working relationship, we’ve seen the importance of healthy peatlands, not only to wildlife but also to many industries, including tourism, fisheries and the water industry. We look forward to continuing work with existing partners, and also meeting new faces interested in restoring our degraded peatlands.”

Emma Goodyer, IUCN UK Peatland Programme Manager, added:

“The IUCN UK Peatland Programme has brought together the evidence highlighting just how important peatlands are to all our lives and it is really encouraging to see this now being acted upon by Scottish Government. Across the globe over 175 peatland nations are grappling with the need to repair and protect peatlands and we will be ensuring that the positive steps taken in Scotland can serve as an example for other countries. We can also continue to learn lessons from across our partnership about how best to engage with people and build lasting support for our peatland goals.”

Image credit: Stephen Corcoran (Cairngorms National Park)

Apply for the Peatland Action Fund now: www.snh.gov.uk/climate-change/taking-action/carbon-management/peatland-action/information-for-applicants/

People and Peatland Film available to view here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=haDtksr2nUM&index=2&list=PLSTn6yg6zH__XM-Mw7fKNoGsVYo31B5VH