RSPB Forsinard Flows; view from visitor trail, including snow-capped Ben Griam, Highland, Scotland.

Peat vs climate

Peat could play a vital role in fighting climate change, and a new science hub at RSPB Forsinard Flows will research it. Paul Turner reports...

Crucial carbon store

"The Flow Country is an awe-inspiring place. You can see for miles across a vast landscape of blanket bog – a globally rare habitat that’s home to many special plants and animals, including lichens and mosses, peatland waders, diving beetles and otters. But it’s not just a stunning place to look at – what’s happening beneath our feet makes it even more important.

The peatland here is the UK's largest terrestrial carbon store. It holds about 400 million tonnes of carbon, double the amount of all the UK’s forests put together, and is vitally important to help tackle climate change. Its significance is underlined by the fact that UNESCO is currently considering awarding World Heritage site status to the Flow Country.

Now, we have a brand-new research hub from which to study the landscape’s potential to fight climate change. Our state-of-the-art Flows Field Centre has opened at RSPB Forsinard Flows, with an opening day attended by hundreds of locals.

The new centre – built as part of the RSPB-led Flows to the Future project and funded via the Peatlands Partnership by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other project partners – provides a base for research into how peatlands can help combat climate change, as well as facilities for schools, reserve staff and volunteers."

Peatland for wildlife

"I feel incredibly lucky to work in this amazing landscape. In the summer, birds such as red-throated divers, golden plovers and greenshanks nest here. Such a remote location is perfect for merlins, short-eared owls and golden eagles hunting for food, while a beautiful yet carnivorous plant, called sundew, can be found around the pools that dot the peatland.

Blanket bog is an amazing habitat; once this work is done, it will begin to form again naturally over time. We’ll monitor the restoration to see how the wildlife and plants species benefit from it, as well as calculating the carbon saving that comes from the restored peatland."

- Paul Turner

RSPB Forsinard Flows; view from visitor trail, including snow-capped Ben Griam, Highland, Scotland.

How you can help

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra, ducklings swimming, Forsinard Flows RSPB reserve, Sutherland, Scotland, July

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