Scotland celebrates record levels of peatland restoration

More than 10,000 hectares of damaged and degraded peatland was restored in Scotland over the past 12 months, with the speed and scale of restoration accelerating partly due to increased private investment.

Scotland celebrates record levels of peatland restoration

Image: RSPB

The Scottish Government confirmed over the weekend that a record 10,360 hectares of peatland were restored over the past 12 months, across more than 100 projects.

This means that the average annual rate of peatland restoration has more than doubled within just two years.

Peatlands cover 10% of the UK’s total land area, but it is estimated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) than 80% of British peatlands are degraded. Key drivers of peatland damage include changing weather patterns, land-use change for business purposes and peat extraction.

Peatlands act as natural carbon stores and provide biodiverse habitats. They also provide natural flood defences and water filtration.

Yet Scotland’s peatlands are in such poor condition that they have become a carbon source rather than a carbon sink. They account for around 15% of the nation’s annual emissions.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC), which advises the UK and Scottish Governments, estimates that peatland restoration should reach 67,000 hectares/year by 2025 to align with legally binding climate targets.

“Restoring degraded peatland is one of the most cost-effective ways we can reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change,” said Scotland’s agriculture minister Jim Fairlie.

Fairlie noted that the acceleration in peatland restoration recently had been buoyed by private investment. The Scottish Government has committed £250m, which has served to catalyse private investment.

Fairlie added: “Increasing private investment in peatland restoration and maximising the community benefits from these projects is crucial. By increasing the pace and scale of peatland restoration we can restore our natural environment and tackle climate change more effectively and I am very pleased to mark this achievement.”

For England’s peatlands, the UK Government last year confirmed two schemes. One is peat-specific and totals £16m, while another broader nature package includes £33m.

Related blog: The case for investing in nature-based solutions in 2024

Related article: Co-op partners with RSPB to restore British peatlands

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Great news!
    More power to your collective elbows!

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