Which of the many peatland benefits is your project focussed on enhancing or conserving?
The Talla, Gameshope & Carrifran peatland restoration is part of a landscape scale restoration to reestablish thriving native woodlands and fully functioning bog habitats in the Scottish Borders. The land was purchased and is managed by the inspiring charity Borders Forest Trust. Community benefit sits at the heart of this project, which whilst delivering carbon reduction and supporting biodiversity, it goes to aid the water catchment management and reduce flooding in the local area.
Gameshope Loch sits high in the Tweed water catchment, an area prone to high levels of flooding. This restoration increases the water retention on higher ground, slowing water runoff and so alleviating flooding impacts in the catchment area.
Carrifran peatland, another pocket of this restoration project, is one of the oldest known areas of bogland in Southern Scotland. We know this because remains of a bow from a hunter gathering community was found at the site - preserved in the bog - which had been dropped 6000 years before. This discovery alerted the scientific community to the age of this site, and led to core sediment samples to be taken in the peat. These samples contained a pollen record which revealed the ecosystem make-up from 6000 years prior, before significant human intervention.
The subsequent planting of Carrifran Wildwood emulated the species mix found in this peat core sample, and because the first trees were planted in the year 2000, these maturing native trees are now acting as a seed stock to reforest native trees in the surrounding area.
Which of the UK Peatland Strategy goals (conservation, restoration, adaptive management,
sustainable management, coordination, communication) is your project helping to deliver?
Talla, Gameshope & Carrifran delivers benefits across the board against the UK Peatland Strategy goals. It is an innovative example of how blended finance can deliver landscape scale restoration, inspired and driven by the local community. There have already been sightings this summer (2021) of dragonflies guarding newly formed bog pools by Gameshope Loch showing that biodiversity is beginning to bounce back.
This project has relies heavily on volunteers from the local community, and further afield. This mutually benefitting arrangement means costs are saved by reducing contractor time, whilst also providing an opportunity for communication and education on tree planting and nature restoration techniques.
What would you like to highlight as the project's top three achievements to date?
The project’s achievement speaks for itself and is down to the hard work of Borders Forest Trust, but from a project development perspective it demonstrates:
1. How to deliver blended (corporate + government) finance to help restore local
ecosystems using the voluntary carbon market
2. The power of partnerships
3. How carbon finance can deliver value back to a community
Have there been any lessons learnt along the way that you would like to share?
Lots! This project was an early mover in the peatland carbon market. Each project is different and requires different considerations and judgment. The challenge is being able to accurately quantify the emissions avoidance of the site so as to lessen the risk of non-delivery for the land owners, especially considering stormier weather conditions we are now facing - and the risk these may pose to newly restored peatland areas.
Are there any resources you have found useful or produced that you think might help other peatland projects?
We often post content on our experience of the UK voluntary carbon market on our blog page.