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Aiming for a World Class Bog: Celebrate the Flow Country on International Bog Day


By David G Scott

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Highland Council is supporting International Bog Day on Sunday (July 25), an annual event designed to celebrate the importance of bogs to our environment.

These amazing environments are hugely important in our fight against climate change and offer an incredible world to explore and enjoy.

Scotland’s climate provides the luxury of many bogs but king among these, blanketing the far north of Scotland, is the dramatic Flow Country with its unrivalled extent of blanket bog.

So special is this vast tract of bog, with its pools, sphagnum mosses, carnivorous plants and spectacular bird populations, that it is being nominated for World Heritage status.

The Flow Country.
The Flow Country.

This process is gathering pace with the mapping of the proposed boundary, based on the highest quality examples of blanket bog environments, nearing completion and expert contributions from NatureScot, RSPB, UHI and others being gathered together.

All this information will be compiled to form the nomination dossier, which will be submitted to UNESCO towards the end of 2022. The local communities and landowners have provided valuable input and support for earlier stages of this process and will soon be asked for their views and input again to shape and guide the development of the proposed World Heritage site and the opportunities it can bring.

Highland Council is one of the lead partners of the application to UNESCO.

There are many ways to enjoy the Flow Country and explore it on many scales. Some of the experts working on the World Heritage nomination have provided some of their highlights:

Executive chief officer for economy and infrastructure, Malcolm MacLeod, said: "The Highland Council is fully behind the Flow Country World Heritage Bid, and International Bog Day provides a great opportunity to the take time to appreciate how special this area is."

Brigid Primrose, of NatureScot, said: "Forsinard lets you experience the vast openness of the Flow Country. It has a bit of everything, pools, insects, birds, and an excellent visitor centre. You can wander out into the bogs on the well prepared paths and even get a birds eye view from the viewing tower."

Forsinard can be accessed by train on the north line, or from the A897. Guided walks (Fridays) are also available until 31 August – booking is essential (forsinard@rspb.org.uk).

Roxane Andersen of University of the Highlands and Islands, said: "The Ben Griams sit in the heart of the Flow Country and not only offer superb views of the patchwork of bog textures from above, but also along the way you get up close to the detail and all the beauty the bogs hold.

"On top of that, as you gain height you move out of the bogs, through the arctic alpine zone, and end up in an Iron Age Hill Fort. Ben Griam Beg can be accessed along a track on the east side of the A897, between Kinbrace and Forsinard. This takes you into pathless terrain so should only be attempted by competent hill goers."

More information can be found on the Flow Country website www.theflowcountry.org.uk/visit

More information on Bog Day can be found at bogday.org


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