Plockton and Portree pupils get stuck into peatland appreciation

Pupils learning about the importance of peatlands at a Science Skills Academy session. Photograph: Gillian Frampton/HIE. No_F24peat01
Pupils learning about the importance of peatlands at a Science Skills Academy session. Photograph: Gillian Frampton/HIE. No_F24peat01

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Plockton and Portree high school pupils are among more than 1,600 pupils from across Highland region taking part in outdoor science sessions to learn about the crucial role peatlands play in the fight against climate change.

The sessions will be provided by the Science Skills Academy (SSA) which will host more than 90 small groups of first year pupils who will carry out practical activities, including identifying and classifying plants that thrive in peatlands.

Pupils will also learn about the Scottish Government’s goal of achieving a net-zero Scotland by 2045 – partially through the restoration of peatlands – which will be a key part of discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November.

April Conroy, STEM engagement manager at SSA, said: ‘We’ve run our first few peatland sessions and have had a fantastic response from the pupils. Peatlands are one of the most valuable ecosystems on earth, particularly as they provide safe drinking water, minimise flood risk and help address climate change.

‘Pupils are enjoying finding out about peatlands and their significance locally and globally. We’re helping them classify the mosses and lichen found in Highland peatlands. We hope they’ll be able to recognise these plants and have a new appreciation of just how special our environment is.’

SSA is a partnership led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal which provided SSA with £3m for the project. Its aim is to help increase the number of young people with the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills needed for future economic growth of the region.

SSA will work in partnership with key organisations, including HIE, Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Skills Development Scotland, High Life Highland and NHS Highland, to deliver and to demonstrate this model of STEM delivery in a large rural area.

In addition to the peatland project, SSA has created the Highland Newton Room network across the Highlands to encourage more young people to study STEM subjects. The STEM learning centres have already opened in Fort William, Thurso and Dingwall and a pop-up Newton Room will serve schools in Skye and Lochalsh.

Further information on how SSA aims to inspire and encourage children to explore STEM subjects in the Highlands and Island can be found at www.scienceskillsacademy.co.uk

CAPTION: Pupils learning about the importance of peatlands at a Science Skills Academy session. Photograph: Gillian Frampton/HIE.

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