Applications open for funding to restore Scotland's peatlands

25 February 2019

The latest Peatland ACTION Fund round is now open with £1.5 million available to restore damaged peatlands across Scotland.

The funding comes through the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan commitments, which sets out the long-term ambition to restore 250,000 hectares of peatland by 2030.

With more than 80% of peatland habitats estimated to be damaged in Scotland, restoration is crucial to “locking-in” carbon, helping to tackle climate change.

The funding primarily supports on-the-ground restoration activities. This includes installation of peat dams in man-made ditches to increase water levels, allowing the peat-building mosses, called sphagnums, to re-establish. It also supports more novel techniques such as peat hag re-vegetating by using the surrounding vegetation to stabilise the bare eroding peat, as shown in the above image, pre-restoration.

More than 20% of Scotland’s land area is covered in peaty soils. Large areas have been damaged over centuries with extensive damage to the core peat reserves and its specialised vegetation. If we were to lose all of the carbon stored in our peat soils, it would be the equivalent of more than 140 times Scotland’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. Urgent action is needed now to reverse this trend, and to restore and improve our precious peatlands.

To date, Peatland ACTION has set over 15,000 hectares of Scotland’s peatlands on the road to recovery, working with over 200 applicants.

Andrew McBride, Peatland ACTION Project Delivery Manager, said: “With this ongoing investment comes multiple benefits to both local communities and nature. Previous applicants have employed local contractors to undertake the restoration work, supporting the local economy, and we are seeing some landowners seeking the benefits of carbon offsetting as part of a suite of measures to become carbon neutral.

“In the face of climate change, healthy peatlands can provide multiple solutions, such as increased water availability for livestock and wildlife, as a wild fire retardant and by slowing river flows helping to reduce downstream flooding.”

The funding round opens today (Monday, 25 February) and closes 17 May 2019. Local Project Officers are available across Scotland for pre-application support and assistance by emailing [email protected] Applicants will be informed if their application has been successful from July 2019. Further information and guidance for people thinking of applying to the fund is available on the NatureScot website.