Restoring the region’s damaged peatlands

Alistair McDonald from the Tweed Forum assesses peatland conditions as part of a survey to identify areas suitable for restoration.
Alistair McDonald from the Tweed Forum assesses peatland conditions as part of a survey to identify areas suitable for restoration.

Conservation staff from Tweed Forum have been surveying the Scottish Borders to identify areas for potential peatland restoration funding.

The Tweed Forum believes around 3,000 hectares of peatland in the Borders could benefit from restoration and is appealing to landowners to alert them to any parts of their properties where work may be required.

Funding is available through the Peatland Action Fund, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), so there is no cost to landowners for the work, which is carried out by specialist contractors.

Peatlands have a major role to play in the fight against the effects of climate change, storing carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere, acting as a flood water store and clean water filter, and providing a rich habitat for wildlife.

However, as much as 80% of the UK’s peatland, most of which is in Scotland, is damaged, releasing carbon instead of storing it, and leading to poorer quality river water.

Alistair McDonald, the Tweed Forum’s peatland action project officer, is currently surveying as much of the Borders’ peatland as possible.

He said: “Scotland’s peatlands hold almost 25 times more carbon than all other plant life in the UK combined and in a healthy state can act as a significant carbon sink. However, the majority of Scottish peatlands are damaged and degraded, releasing vast amounts of carbon to the atmosphere.

“We encourage any landowners in the Borders who have areas of peatland that would benefit from restoration to get in touch.”

The areas involved need to be sampled every 100 metres with a peat probe and GPS equipment to assess peat depths and ensure readings are properly recorded.

Applications for Peatland Action Funding close on October 31, 2017 with support available from the Tweed Forum.