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Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has urged land owners, managers, farmers, crofters and estates to apply for funding to help protect precious peatlands.
From Shetland to the Solway Firth more than 20 per cent of Scotland is covered by peat – an area almost the same size as Wales. Peatlands provide multiple benefits when maintained in a healthy condtition.
Restoring these peatlands has been made possible thanks to additional Scottish Government funding of £8 million which will see another 8,000 hectares of damaged peatlands start their road to recovery this year.
The Peatland Action Fund, run by SNH and launched in April, has already had more than £4 million of applications but wants further applications before the closing date at the end of October.
Restoration techniques start with ‘rewetting’ of peatland, mostly through ditch blocking.
This reconnects peatlands with water catchments, helping to slow river flows and, in some cases, ease downstream flooding.
Other restoration techniques being trialled include peat hag re-profiling, re-vegetating bare peat and forest to pre-existing bog recovery.
Andrew McBride, the project manager, said: ‘Our drinking water comes from these peatland catchment areas, so healthy peatlands are crucial for clean water.
‘River salmon and trout fisheries depend on clear water to allow the development of fish eggs laid in the river gravels.
‘In addition, associated species like freshwater pearl mussels benefit from the peat free waters.
‘Soils are the main terrestrial store of carbon in Scotland and peaty soils are estimated to hold the equivalent of 140 years worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. That is an enormous store of carbon and by restoring and protecting this precious asset now we can make proactive gains towards Scotland’s climate change targets.’
Sunday was International Bog Day 2017 in which the role bogs play in maintaining a healthy environment is celebrated.
Covering just three per cent of the earth’s land area, they are second only to oceans in the amount of carbon they store – twice that held by the globe’s forests.