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£22m fund on offer for peatland restoration

By Alan Hendry

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Environment and climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham with Andrew McBride, a Peatland Action manager, in a picture taken before the pandemic.
Environment and climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham with Andrew McBride, a Peatland Action manager, in a picture taken before the pandemic.

Farmers, landowners and land managers across Scotland can now access a £22 million fund to carry out peatland restoration projects.

It is the latest stage of a 10-year, £250 million package announced by the Scottish Government in February 2020 and underlines the essential contribution that restoring degraded peatland can make to addressing the global climate emergency and biodiversity loss.

Peatland restoration is a key part of the Scottish Government’s goal of achieving a net-zero Scotland by 2045.

As well as smaller projects, the 2021 funding round has been expanded to large-scale schemes over multiple years.

Scotland's environment and climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Restoration of degraded peatland is a vital, nature-based solution to protecting Scotland’s biodiversity and ensuring we end our contribution to climate change, as well as supporting skilled land-based jobs in rural communities across Scotland.

“I am delighted that for the first time we can now also invite multi-year projects that can overcome some of the barriers to significantly boosting rates of restoration, and look forward to this funding round injecting fresh impetus and energy as we lead the way in a green recovery from Covid-19.

“This approach allows us to invest in projects that will deliver the sort of large-scale carbon sequestration we need to meet our climate change targets – and make significant improvements to our environment too.”

Peat soils cover almost a quarter of Scotland, about 1.7 million hectares, storing some 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of an estimated 140 years of the country’s emissions.

However, it is estimated that more than 80 per cent of peatlands in Scotland are in poor condition and, instead of capturing and storing carbon, they release it into the atmosphere.

Some of the fund is administered by the Peatland Action programme, run by NatureScot on behalf of Scottish Government, with a portion of the cash going directly to national parks.

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “Enhancing and protecting nature is a key part of tackling the climate emergency we are all facing.

“Restoring our peatlands offers a clear, nature-based solution to the climate crisis by locking in carbon, enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and mitigating flood risk.

“Peatland restoration can also play a key role in Scotland’s green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic by creating jobs and skills opportunities in the rural economy.

“Since 2012 Peatland Action has already put more than 25,000 hectares of peatland on the road to recovery. This significant new funding will continue to build on that work."

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