News

Funding to restore Scotland’s iconic peatlands

Published: 05 Jun 2021 00:01

£22 million this year towards meeting climate change targets.

Projects to restore Scotland’s peatlands will get a share of £22 million this year to significantly reduce carbon emissions and support biodiversity as part of the government’s climate change plan.

Degraded peatlands emit more carbon than they remove, becoming a net source of greenhouse gases. Restoring peatlands will help remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, support habitats and species, improve water quality and manage flood risk.

Last year the Scottish Government announced a £250 million ten-year funding package to support peatland restoration, with a target of restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatland by 2030. In 2021-22, five partners including NatureScot and Scottish Water will get a share of £22 million to deliver a range of new and existing restoration projects across Scotland.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan visited a Forestry and Land Scotland site at Coalburn Moss near Lesmahagow to witness first-hand the benefits of peatland restoration.

Ms McAllan said:

“Peatlands are an integral part of Scotland’s cultural and natural heritage, and cover more than 20% of our country. When in good condition, they offer multiple benefits to our environment and communities. Restoring Scotland’s peatlands can help us fight climate change, support biodiversity and provide good, green jobs – often in rural communities.

“That’s why restoring and protecting this precious natural resource is a key part of our response to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Scotland is centre stage this year with COP26 in Glasgow and our significant investment in peatland restoration is just one of the ways we are demonstrating our world leading climate action.”

Welcoming the funding, NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “Restoring our peatlands offers a clear nature-based solution to the climate crisis by locking in carbon, enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and mitigating flood risk.

“This significant new funding comes in a year when Scotland has a huge opportunity to address the many challenges and pressures that nature is facing as we look towards both the nature COP15 in Kunming, China, and COP26 on climate change in Glasgow.

“Since 2012, NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION initiative has already put more than 25,000 hectares of peatland on the road to recovery, with 75% of all peatland restored in Scotland funded through the project. We are committed to providing leadership and guidance to partners as we work to build on that progress, restore more of our peatlands to good condition and ensure a nature-rich future for Scotland."

Background

The Scottish Government has committed in the Climate Change Plan update and the current Programme for Government to restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatland by 2030, with an annual target of 20,000 hectares.

The confirmed budget allocations for each of the peatland restoration programme delivery partners is offered in return for undertaking an annual amount of peatland restoration.

Restoration of damaged peatland has been undertaken across Scotland, including a number of projects in the internationally important Flow Country, in Caithness and Sutherland, one of the largest areas of blanket bog in the world.

Restoring peatland involves using machinery and expert advice to improve areas of wetlands, often by undertaking activities to reduce drainage and slow the flow of water on peatlands, as well as covering areas of peat exposed to the elements.