COMMUNITIES and land managers can now apply for a share of an £8million Peatlands Action Fund, Climate Change secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

Around 1.7 million hectares of Scotland is covered in peatlands and keeping them well-maintained mitigates against climate change by locking in carbon – but if allowed to degrade, peatlands release greenhouse gas rather than act as a sink. This is why the Scottish Government wants to restore 250,000 hectares of peatlands by 2032.

Ms Cunningham said: “Restoring our peatlands and taking advantage of their value as a natural resource is crucial if we are to continue to build on our world leading low carbon ambitions, and reduce emissions by 66% by 2032.

“By increasing our investment, more communities will be able to transform and use peatlands as an open space, regenerating it as a habitat for wildlife and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Since 2013 our peatland restoration work has already transformed more than 10,000 hectares, with this new funding set to deliver a step change in our approach by restoring 8000 hectares in 2017-18 and ultimately lead to our goal of 250,000 by 2032," she said.

Scottish Natural Heritage will deliver the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. SNH Peatland Action manager Andrew McBride said: "This is wonderful news for our peatlands and our wildlife, as well as for tourism and rural jobs. The extra investment will almost double the amount of peatlands we can restore, and also get more people aware and involved in taking care of this valuable natural resource."