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06 June, 2014

Rallying cry to restore Scotland’s peatlands

People across Scotland are being asked for their views on a plan to restore and manage the country’s vital peatlands, in a consultation launched today (6th June) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Peatlands cover almost a quarter of Scotland’s land area, about two million hectares. They have a key role in tackling climate change and are one of the country’s most precious natural assets.

The plan was developed by a group representing a range of Scottish land management and environmental interests.

One type of peatland, called blanket bog, is Scotland’s largest terrestrial carbon store. It alone holds around 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon, about 29 years’ worth of the country’s carbon emissions. Scotland has 15% of the world’s total of this globally rare and internationally important habitat.

However, large areas of Scotland’s peatlands have been damaged over centuries. Damaged peatlands don’t absorb as much carbon as healthy ones and can instead become a source of greenhouse gasses.

The plan is supported by a wealth of earlier and ongoing work, including a report published today: ‘Managing and restoring blanket bog to benefit biodiversity and carbon balance’ commissioned by SNH and prepared by the James Hutton Institute.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said:

“Scotland has shown significant leadership of peatland restoration and related science. The Scottish Government is funding a major programme of peatland restoration – Peatland Action – which will tackle these challenges as we build on this work to create a healthier landscape.

“At the heart of this public consultation is the need to encourage land managers of both large and small scale holdings - to assemble landscape scale projects. We are committed to working in partnership with land managers, as in many cases they are the key to peatland restoration.”

Peatlands dominate the north-west Highlands and the Islands but they can also be found in the Central Belt, Galloway and the Borders, and just a short distance from many towns and cities.

Healthy peatlands provide many other important benefits. For example, about 70% of Scotland’s freshwater comes from peaty areas and the more intact the peatland, the cleaner the water.

Peatlands are important for wildlife, including many birds and some fascinating plants, such as insect-eating sundews and butterwort. They can also help with flood management and support agricultural, sporting and fishery enterprises.

Ian Ross, SNH chairman, said:

“Healthy peatlands make a huge contribution to Scotland’s society, from fishing interests and our multi-billion pound whisky industry, to leisure and recreation and wildlife-watching. It is in everyone’s interests for this globally rare habitat to be restored and to make sure it is managed sustainably to secure the social, economic and environmental benefits of this and future generations.

“That’s what this plan is all about. It sets out proposals to create a network of sites over the next 15 years that demonstrate sustainable management and restoration of peatlands.

“We want to hear from anyone who has an interest in peatland management who can help identify any gaps and further opportunities in order to finalise the plan.”

Notes to editors

Notes to Editors

The draft consultative Plan was developed by a group of stakeholder bodies representing a wide range of Scottish land management and environmental interests.

Comments should be sent to SNH by the closing date of Friday 12 September 2014. Following the consultation and a review of responses, Scotland’s National Peatland Plan - working for our future will be published.

The consultative plan can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Natural Heritage website at:

The draft National Peatland Plan is supported by a wealth of earlier and ongoing work, including two reports published today:

Managing and restoring blanket bog to benefit biodiversity and carbon balance’ commissioned by SNH and prepared by the James Hutton Institute.

Scotland’s peatland - definitions & information resources’

Details of the Peatland Action restoration fund are at:

Media inquiries: Dominic Shann, Scottish Natural Heritage Public Relations: 01463 725157

The James Hutton Institute is a world-leading, multi-site scientific organisation encompassing a distinctive range of integrated strengths in land, crop, waters, environmental and socio-economic science. It undertakes research for customers including the Scottish and UK Governments, the EU and other organisations worldwide. The institute has a staff of nearly 600 and 125 PhD students, and takes its name from the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment scientist, James Hutton, who is widely regarded as the founder of modern geology and who was also an experimental farmer and agronomist.

Contact information

Dominic Shann
Job Title
Media Relations Officer
01463 725157

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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