Scotland’s First Peatland Restoration Course as world leaders in Peatland Restoration

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Andrew Scoon, Nature Recovery Assistant, has been in Scotland for a week, training in everything peatland restoration at Scotland’s first Peatland Restoration course, delivered by SRUC. Around 20% of Scotland is covered by peat and they are leading the way in terms of peatland restoration.

“To be honest, I was starting from the very beginning, with my base understanding of peatlands being basically null. Now, my brain may as well be peat, due to the amount of information I have absorbed!” Sphagnum mosses are the predominant species on these biologically derived (living) land forms, and they are made up of around 80% water. “There were 14 of us coming from Scotland, England and Ireland; with various backgrounds in government, estate management, contracting, project development, design and ecology which really helped us all get an extensive range of perspectives on tackling peatland restoration.” Andrew’s now working to disseminate his knowledge to share with us all here at Maydencroft to see how we can get on board and has a second week to attend at the end of March.

The opportunities for Maydencroft and peatland restoration are massive. Peat Action, a government funded body in Scotland for the prime purpose of peatland restoration, are looking to restore 250 thousand hectares of peat by the year 2030. Particular skills gaps are seen within contractors and designers, whilst project developers will be needed by landowners to help them engage in peatland restoration in a meaningful and beneficial way. Maydencroft already delivers this suite of services for woodland planting, and it's not a huge leap into doing so for peatland restoration.

Maydencroft’s newest office at Barnard Castle lies in the heart of England’s peat range between the North Pennines and the Yorkshire dales. How very well thought out! This puts us in a highly advantageous position to take on peatland restoration and help to keep tonnes and tonnes of CO2 locked into the landscape, the main driver for peatland restoration in the fight for climate change mitigation.

However, it's not only CO2 and climate change mitigation that peatland restoration is important for, as peatlands are deeply connected to hydrological cycles. Peat grows at 1mm per year, and some areas of peat can be as deep as 17m; that’s 17,000 years’ worth of growth. Being such an ancient part of the landscape, of course the ecological importance is massive. The biodiversity related to good condition peat, and the natural processes they are involved in are extensive and this is because they are a living landscape and are in constant slow movement, similar to icebergs. The ecosystem services and industries that are impacted by the condition and quality of peatlands are:

  • Water quality (purification);
  • Flood disaster mitigation;
  • Fisheries ;
  • Farming, and;
  • Grouse moors

The premise of peatland restoration is mostly simple; slowing down hydrological activity by improving land management practices to halt and reverse peatland degradation and keeping the landscape wetted.

For these reasons, and to tackle climate change, Maydencroft are committed to helping land owners make better use of their land for not only themselves, but for the natural environment. ‘Watch this space’ could not be a truer phrase for Maydencroft’s involvement in peatland restoration.