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RSPB Scotland welcomes funding for peatland restoration

22 October 2012

Louise Purves
Media and Communications Officer

RSPB Scotland has today (22nd October) welcomed a funding announcement from the Scottish Government’s Green Stimulus Package of £1.7m for peatland restoration.

Lloyd Austin, Head of Conservation Policy at RSPB Scotland said “This is excellent news for Scotland’s special and internationally important peatland habitats. Peatlands are the home to rare and wonderful wildlife and are a store of huge amounts of carbon in the peat soils. This investment in peatland habitat will benefit our unique biodiversity and help us meet our climate change commitments. We look forward to working with Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage to develop the proposed Peatland Plan and help restore damaged peatlands back to a healthy state.”

“RSPB Scotland and our partners have been calling for Government to commit to restoring 600,000ha of peatland over the next 10 years at an estimated cost of £12m per year. We hope that the proposed plan will incorporate ambitions at this scale.  It is only with ambitious and innovative actions, alongside similar initiatives on energy and transport, that Scotland will be able to meet its climate change targets and avoid the embarrassment of missing any further annual emissions targets, as happened in 2010”


·         Scotland's peatlands are the home to some of Scotland's most precious wildlife and hold 1,620 million tonnes of carbon - equivalent to ten times the carbon stored in all the UK's forests. However, large areas of peatland are degraded or poorly managed and carbon from the peat soils is being lost to the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Government has an existing obligation to restore 600,000 hectares of blanket bog habitat to benefit wildlife, and this activity could also save 2.7Mt CO2eq per year from being emitted. Typical costs are in the range of £100-300/ha although some damaged areas will cost more to restore to good habitat status. Costs of £13/tonne per tonne of CO2eq saved from peatland restoration are favourable when compared to other ways of carbon saving. Funding over a 10 year period could come from a number of public and private sources and can be considered as preventative spending - money allocated now to prevent serious damage and greater costs in the future. Providing or facilitating the funding of  £12m per year over ten years will enable restoration of sufficient peatland to significantly meet the national carbon targets . Peatland restoration must be included as a policy in the Government’s Report on Proposals and Policies


·         On 17th July 2012 the Scottish Government announced that Scotland had failed to meet the annual emission target for the year 2010 . The annual target for 2010 was set at 53.652 MtCO2e. After adjusting for the traded sector, Scotland’s emissions in 2010 rose by nearly 2% to 54.714 MtCO2e. In Parliament tomorrow (23/10/2012) there will be a Ministerial Statement on the Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report which will cover this issue. 


·         RSPB Scotland’s Forsinard Flows nature reserve in Caithness and Sutherland is a 21,500ha in size and consists mainly of blanket bog habitat. Forsinard Flows is part of the Flow Country, which at 400,000ha is the largest blanket bog in the world. RSPB Scotland has been working to restore damaged areas of blanket bog on the reserve by blocking drainage ditches and removing trees which were inappropriately planted on the fragile deep peat soils in the 1970s and 80s.  The Scottish Government provided £200,000 in 2010 for the RSPB and SNH to carry out research on peatland restoration. RSPB Scotland’s continuing aim is to improve the overall condition of the remaining areas of intact bog and to restore areas lost to forestry.

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