PEATLAND RESTORATION funding to the tune of £22 million will be available from the Scottish government over the next year, as part of its efforts to reduce the country's carbon emissions.

More than 20% of Scotland is covered by peatlands, which hold most of Scotland’s carbon store – they are estimated to contain the equivalent of 140 years’ worth of Scotland’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions – and so are vital in tackling climate change.

However degraded peatlands are a net source of GHG emissions, emitting more carbon than they remove. Hence the focus on restoring peatlands to help remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, support habitats and species, improve water quality and manage flood risk.

Last year the Scottish Government announced a ten-year funding package of £250 million to support peatland restoration, with a target of restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatland by 2030, at a rate of 20,000 hectares per year. In 2021-22, five partners including NatureScot and Scottish Water will get a share of the £22 million pot to deliver a range of new and existing restoration projects across Scotland.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan visited a Forestry and Land Scotland site at Coalburn Moss near Lesmahagow to witness first-hand the benefits of peatland restoration. Ms McAllan said: “Peatlands are an integral part of Scotland’s cultural and natural heritage, and cover more than 20% of our country. When in good condition, they offer multiple benefits to our environment and communities. Restoring Scotland’s peatlands can help us fight climate change, support biodiversity and provide good, green jobs – often in rural communities.

“That’s why restoring and protecting this precious natural resource is a key part of our response to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Scotland is centre stage this year with COP26 in Glasgow and our significant investment in peatland restoration is just one of the ways we are demonstrating our world leading climate action.”

Welcoming the funding, NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska added: “Restoring our peatlands offers a clear nature-based solution to the climate crisis by locking in carbon, enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and mitigating flood risk.

“This significant new funding comes in a year when Scotland has a huge opportunity to address the many challenges and pressures that nature is facing as we look towards both the nature COP15 in Kunming, China, and COP26 on climate change in Glasgow," she continued.

“Since 2012, NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION initiative has already put more than 25,000 hectares of peatland on the road to recovery, with 75% of all peatland restored in Scotland funded through the project. We are committed to providing leadership and guidance to partners as we work to build on that progress, restore more of our peatlands to good condition and ensure a nature-rich future for Scotland."