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Helping young people understand the need for peatland restoration was the aim of a successful outing for Golspie High School pupils to Dalchork Forest last month, thanks to Forestry and Land Scotland and NatureScot.

The day on-site was part of a larger project, supported by the Developing Young Workforce (DYW) co-ordinator for the school, which as well as exploring the science of peatland restoration also highlights this form of conservation work as a rural career option.  

Joining FLS staff on the day, 28 pupils working in two groups at different sites, rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in to some site condition assessment, peat depth surveys and removing naturally regenerating trees from rewetted peatland.  

The groups swapped half-way through the day so that each group got to experience both elements.

FLS Peatland Programme Forester, Susan Nicol, who led one of the groups, said;

“Peatland restoration is going to be a big element in Scottish conservation work over the next few years. It’s also going to be a great opportunity for rural employment because at the moment there aren’t enough people who are trained in doing the work.

“That’s why we got together with NatureScot to develop this pilot project, to introduce pupils to the concept, science and practices of peatland restoration and to explain the types of work available in this field and the skills required to do those jobs.   

“The day went really well and all the people involved enjoyed it. I think a few of them were quite taken aback when they discovered how deep peatland can be!

“We’re looking at roll this out to high schools across Caithness and Sutherland. It’s a great way of helping young people become more aware of the opportunities open to them in rural areas.”

Although the pupils spent some time removing non-native tree species from the bog, the main focus was on peatland survey work and planting the right trees in the right places - native trees alongside a burn in a more appropriate location.

Carrying out a ‘peatland site condition survey’ involved looking at positive and negative indicators and taking peat depths to assess the condition of the peatland. 

Careers in peatland restoration will be the focus of Peatland ACTION input to an industry day to be held at the school shortly.

Becky Shaw, NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION Workforce Development Manager said

“Restoration in the vast peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland will provide opportunities for people with a wide range of skills – everything from highly-skilled machine operators, to peatland scientists – all of which are involved in reducing carbon emissions and improving biodiversity.”

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.

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  3. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 07785 527590 or