Published: 25th May 2017

Read all about the importance of peatlands, a significant feature of wild land.

Peatlands are a significant feature of wild land in Scotland. They are home to precious, specialist species but they are also our most significant carbon store. It's vital that we protect existing peatlands, as well as restore those that are degraded. We work to ensure their huge value is recognised fully in public policy and planning decisions.

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Covering only 3% of the world’s surface, peat bogs contain 30% of the world’s soil carbon and are a significant carbon store. More than 20% of Scotland is covered by peat - covering some 2 million hectares, almost exactly the same size as Wales. (Source: SNH)

Peatlands can be damaged by extraction for horticulture, burning, drainage, excessive grazing, commercial forestry, bull-dozed tracks and inappropriately-sited developments.

We have expressed concern about peatland impacts in relation to a number of industrial-scale wind farm proposals, highlighting the role of peatlands in retaining carbon stores in the ground, a vital role with respect to climate change mitigation.

Peat storage area

We are part of a coaltion of environmental bodies that make up the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme. The programme advocates the multiple benefits of peatlands and has produced a range of detailed briefing notes aimed at policy makers, practitioners and academics to help explain the ecological processes that underpin peatland function.

In March 2017 the Scottish Government announced funding of £8 million over the next year to support peatland restoration under the Peatland Action scheme. It follows proposals in Scotland’s draft Climate Change Plan for 250,000 hectares of peatlands to be restored by 2032, by providing a fund that communities and land managers can apply for.

MHA 08 020711 1070