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Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) ongoing efforts to restore former forestry plantation to peatland has been given a £3 million boost from the Peatland Action Fund and Scottish Government. 

The funding, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage, is drawn from the Scottish Government’s £14 million investment in projects to restore degraded peatlands - a Programme for Government commitment. 

The £3 million will add further momentum to FLS’s 5 five year programme of restoration works which has begun restoration across 2,500 hectares of afforested land, and 3,000 hectares of existing but threatened open peatland.

This year’s work will see a further 785 ha restored across 14 sites across Scotland, and a range of works such s surveys and the construction of roads and bridges to enable larger programmes of restoration work in future.  

Ian McKee, Open Habitat Ecologist with FLS, said; 

“This funding is a great testament to the quality and range of restoration projects that we have undertaken over the past five years as we work towards restoring over 2,500 hectares of former forestry plantation back to Blanket Bog and Lowland Raised Bog.

“This hugely important work we are doing is helping secure our carbon stores, and change the peatlands from sources of carbon to carbon sinks. 

“Every site we restore adds value to the scale of the contribution we make to our environment, to biodiversity, water quality, and to the people of Scotland.”  

The work is an integral part of Scotland’s contribution to tackling the global climate emergency, and will help further the Scottish Government pledge to make Scotland a net-zero emissions country by 2045.  

Using a range of techniques developed initially by FLS, Scottish Power Renewables and Forest Research, FLS’s restoration work involves removing trees and ‘re-wetting’ sites, as well as smoothing out the ridge and furrow patterning established when sites were originally planted with trees.

A shears harvesting system can be used on the wettest and most challenging sites, so that more timber is recovered and sites are left cleaner and less cluttered once felling is completed. This makes the site easier to re-wet and to smooth out. Stumps are also flipped upside down to help with ground smoothing and, in conjunction with peat dams, to help raise the depth of the water table.  

Survey work, including water quality monitoring, is helping to assess the progress of restored sites, minimise any potential negative impacts, and identify other sites that could be restored to their original condition.  

It will also help in the development of an FLS Peatland Restoration Strategy, which has the potential to identify up to 35,000 hectares of Forest to Bog peatland restoration, and improve the condition of a similar amount of existing blanket bog on Scotland’s National Forests and Land.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) was established as an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government on 1 April 2019, following completion of the devolution of forestry as a result of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018. It replaces Forest Enterprise Scotland.
  2. The purpose of FLS is to manage forests and land owned by Scottish Minsters in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; and delivers benefits for people and nature. FLS may manage other forested and non-forested land by arrangement, as set out in the Act.
  3. The primary focus of FLS, in delivering its purpose, is to support Scottish Ministers in their role as leaders of Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Development through their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
  4. Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency, working to improve the natural environment, inspire people to care more about it and ensure that it is maintained, enhanced and delivers benefits for all.
  5. For more information about the Peatland ACTION project visit , or follow us on Twitter @PeatlandACTION .
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  7. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 0131 370 5059 or