Currently, much of the nation’s peatlands are degraded, either through natural wear and tear due to historical initiatives which led the areas to be drained for agriculture or used for forestry. Luckily, we have learnt from the past and now appreciate that peatlands, once restored, can lock in carbon. Currently, Scottish peatlands hold 75% of the carbon locked in all UK soils and vegetation.
The Scottish Government has pledged £250 million to restore 250,000Ha of peatland by 2030. And here at Buccleuch, we are doing our bit; beginning with restoration of peatland areas on the Lowther Hills on the Queensberry Estate.
Following a survey by the Crichton Carbon Centre in November 2020, the team at Queensberry Estate began working with peatland specialists, planning for the restoration of seven sites across the Lowther Hills, each an average of 26Ha. With work beginning in December, the team needed to complete the restoration before mid-April 2021, when it was expected ground-nesting birds might return to the site. Alongside their powerful carbon sink properties, peatlands are a fantastic home for a diverse, and often rare, range of species.
Some sites were beginning to show signs of natural recovery with vegetation regrowth, however, centuries of erosion and manmade interventions still had to be remedied. As much as possible, the team used natural material from the sites, with coir matting being brought in where it was needed to protect reprofiled peat hags.
The result is seven restored peatlands on the estate, which will help store carbon and reduce potential emissions. Buccleuch is now turning its attentions to other areas of the estates which will benefit from the same care and stewardship, looking after the land for generations to come.