The Flow Country of Sutherland and Caithness has been on the UK’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites since 1999. It is widely regarded by experts as being the best peatland of its type in the world!
Progress by The Peatlands Partnership towards the site’s inscription as a World Heritage Site (WHS) has been slow due to a number of other management priorities in the area including the delivery of the £10.6 million Heritage Lottery funded Flows to the Future Project.
Now in its fourth year of a five year project, the Partnership has delivered a £2 million Flows Field Centre at Forsinard, Sutherland, along with a new peatland viewing tower, easy access trails and a completely revamped Visitor Centre on the RSPB’s Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve. Alongside this visitor and volunteer infrastructure is an ambitious programme to restore 7 square miles of blanket bog habitat – removing forestry blocks, crushing brash, blocking furrows, and blocking drains.
However, the Partnership has now also established a Working Group dedicated solely to the ensuring completion and submission of a Technical Evaluation of the proposed World Heritage Site by the summer of 2019. The Group has members representing the public, private and voluntary (third) sectors. It is chaired by Mrs Frances Gunn of the Highland Third Sector Interface. The Group hopes to employ a Project Officer to oversee the development of the Technical Evaluation but, because staff resources are not currently available, is also looking to contract out parts of the work to the private sector. The Group has identified its three main tasks over the coming months:
(1). To clarify and define the boundary of a Flow Country WHS to ensure as much as possible of the Outstanding Universal Value (blanket bog habitat) is included,
(2). To carry out an extensive community consultation with the local people and all those with an interest in managing or enjoying the Flow Country, and
(3) To ensure a robust Technical Evaluation is submitted next summer, is in (relatively) plain English, and meets all the exacting standards expected by the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.
For further information about the Flow Country and Flows to the Future Project, please visit: www.theflowcountry.org.uk or contact Brigid Primrose, The Peatlands Partnership’s WHS Working Group, c/o Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness, IV3 8NW. Email: FlowCountryWHS@snh.gov.uk
Photo credits: James Carter/Flows to the Future (top) and Steve Moore/Scottish Natural Heritage (bottom)