Last week, I attended a meeting of the Peatland Action Project Officers in Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, and this included a visit to peatland sites hosted by Buccleuch Estates. It made a pleasant change to operating close to home, and to be able to show people from other parts of the country how remote parts of the Southern Uplands can be.
The aim of the meeting was to share knowledge and ideas between the Project Officers who based all over Scotland – from the Shetlands to Galloway.
The project has received additional funding of £3m for this financial year, to build on the budget of £5m that closed at the end of March 2015. The new funding will be allocated to additional peatland restoration work and the window for submitting applications closes on 17 August. There is still time to submit an application, if you are quick!
I am helping to set up demonstration events to communicate the benefits of peatland restoration to a wider audience, and one of the most important audiences will be other land managers. These events will cover restoration techniques, but I think one of the most important messages is that by improving the condition of peatland there are benefits for everyone. It is not just about large intervention projects to restore degraded peatland or re-vegetate areas of bare peat; the benefits can come simply from better management of the land.
Bare peat areas should be given priority for restoration; as these areas are unstable, the impact of wind and/or water causes them to erode quickly. As a result, bare peat loses the most carbon, both to the atmosphere and to watercourses, in the form of peat particles and dissolved carbon. Stabilising the peat and raising water tables encourages the growth of sphagnum mosses that cover the bare peat, thereby reducing the erosion and loss of the carbon from the moorland.
For more detail, the project has its own section on the SNH website.