Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A briefing from the Peatland Conference 2014

A grip block in operation 
This briefing will be presented at the Moorland Forum meeting on 31 October 2014

The conference was held in Inverness, 20-22 October 2014, and was the sixth in an annual series of conferences organised by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme the main funder of this year's conference was the Peatland Action project.This briefing provides some highlights for the information of Moorland Forum members.

The conference is very academic in nature, and does not attract many other stakeholders. Arguably, it is not a format that will appeal to the owners and managers of land, and rather than adapt the format for future conferences, it would be better to develop an alternative way to engage with other interest groups.

The proposal to establish a form of demonstration sites has been proposed by the Peatland Steering Group, and this is an issue that was returned to several times during the presentations given as part of the conference. On behalf of the Moorland Forum, I have been asked to look at the options and to consider how a proposal could be prepared.

Our knowledge of peatlands has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the IUCN programme has been at the heart of this development. There are many initiatives and to anyone not involved with peatland issues on a day-to-day basis, the different initiatives can become rather confusing. We will be hearing about the National Peatland Plan, the Peatland Code and Peatland Action during the meeting on 31 October, but I think it will be an important part of the National Peatland Plan to establish a Peatland Group that will bring all the different threads together.

All this increasing knowledge will be of little value until we can develop a delivery structure to apply the knowledge for the benefit of peatland. Peatland Action has achieved great things in a very short space of time, but the money dries up to a large extent, next year, and thereafter it will not be to make progress by providing large grants to NGOs and agencies. More work will need to be done with the private owners and managers of peatland and this is a change we need to start planning for. I believe that the demonstration site concept is the best way to provide this engagement in different parts of Scotland, while providing a platform for applied research that will further increase our knowledge.

I believe that this is an involved, but important, topic, that the Forum should maintain close contact with.

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