Harper Macleod in partnership with Peatland ACTION
A roundtable event summary – Peatland restoration
In November, in collaboration with Peatland ACTION, we hosted a roundtable event designed to facilitate meaningful discussion on the future of peatland restoration. Peter Hutchinson, NatureScot’s Programme Manager for Peatland ACTION, gave a presentation titled ‘Present and future aspirations of peatland restoration’.
The presentation touched on number of themes including: the benefits of peatland as a means of storing carbon and providing habitat for plants, insects and animals. He outlined the challenge caused by the fact that 80% of Scotland’s peatland is in a degraded condition. This is resulting in the release of around 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, which represents about 10% of Scotland’s carbon emissions.
Also discussed was the role of Peatland ACTION – the national programme to restore peatland across Scotland, and the role of NatureScot within this – to provide leadership to the partnership of delivery bodies and manage around 75% of the delivery of peatland restoration.
Since 2012, around 30,000 hectares of peatland have been part of restoration projects at a cost of more than £40 million. The government has committed to restoring 250,000 hectares by 2030 with a budget of £250 million allocated for this. However, in order to meet this target the rate of restoration will need to increase dramatically, about five times the rate of restoration of last year.
In order to achieve this target, Peatland ACTION believes it will be necessary to increase the demand for restoration by creating a business model which looks beyond just full cost recovery, contains a pipeline of investable projects, and expands the workforce of designers and advisers, both in-house and in the private sector. Furthermore, Peatland ACTION acknowledges the critical need to achieve the expansion of the civil engineering contractor workforce. To meet these targets, a programme of training is planned which will be made available to develop the skills necessary. Also being considered is a review of the funding process in order to make it more streamlined.
Finally, the presentation addressed the bigger challenge which lies ahead beyond 2030: restoring all 1.8 million hectares of peatland in Scotland. This will require a much bigger budget than the allocated £250 million as well as around seven times the amount of work that is currently supported by the infrastructure investment plan. In order to reach this target, Peatland ACTION considers that a targeted approach may need to be made, such as a focus on the peatland types releasing the most carbon, specific landowners and public sector resources. In addition, being considered are more enabling conditions such as making restoration an obligation rather than voluntary in certain circumstances, the adoption of a blended approach to funding to incorporate the private sector finance in order to amass the estimated £1 billion required to restore 1.8 million hectares, and the potential establishment of a dedicated peatland body.
There was a lively and informed discussion between all attending, with the main points being application processes, availability of skilled operators, finance and competing interests.
Keep an eye on our events page for future opportunities to discuss the future of peatland restoration.
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