Minister visits Trust peatland restoration site

Leading nature conservation charity, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, has hosted the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, today at Carsegowan Moss in Galloway to see how the Peatland Action Fund is being used to improve these vital habitats.

The work by the Trust at Carsegowan Moss has used a pioneering technique, known as ‘peat bunding’. This involves using very low ground-pressure excavators to remove the damaged surface layers of peat. Deeper peat is then used to build up a low embankment to hold back and slow the flow of water from the site.

Scotland’s peatlands are internationally important forms of habitat, not only for their wildlife value but also for the wider benefits they provide to society, including water purification, carbon capture and storage.

Peatlands are particularly fragile and sensitive. It is imperative that effective management is put in place if they are to continue to provide all their invaluable services. The restoration and enhancement of these ecosystems will also increase society’s resilience to climate change.

Historically, peatlands were drained for agriculture, dug up for peat or planted with conifer trees. Unfortunately, this means that across Scotland lowland bogs are in urgent need of restoration with over 90% of sites either in a damaged state

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, said: “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the benefits which peatlands provide and has allocated £15 million for peatland restoration. Peatlands are vital for providing ecosystem services such as water purification, flood prevention, helping to confront the challenges of climate change and improving biodiversity.

“The 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity therefore includes a commitment to restore Scotland’s peatlands and I am delighted to see such action taking place at the Carsegowan Moss in Dumfries and Galloway and throughout Scotland.”

Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Jonny Hughes, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust would like to thank the Minister for taking the time to see first-hand how the Scottish Wildlife Trust is using the Peatland Action Fund to save unique places like Carsegowan Moss.

“Peatlands are vital natural capital assets have been neglected for far too long and it’s good to see Scottish Government investing in restoration. However, in order to safeguard these vital habitats for the future, much more needs to be done to turn what is currently a liability on Scotland’s balance sheet into a water, carbon and wildlife asset for future generations.”