Friday, 14 September 2018

Peatland Events

A focus on peatland
October will be peatland month at the Heather Trust as we start to look forward to a series of events focussed on peatland management. Peatland has become a core issue for the Heather Trust over the past five years, and we work hard to raise awareness about the value of sustainable peatland management. Many moors are defined by peat, and like so many other areas of land use, healthy businesses depend upon healthy soils. Everybody wins when peat is kept in good condition, and the benefits are weighed in clean water, biodiversity, carbon storage and flood mitigation.

Peat has been extensively degraded in recent history, and the UK suffers from a combination of harmful factors which have damaged our peatlands. These factors often vary depending on geography; industrial pollution has caused devastation to peatlands in the Peak District, while commercial forestry has destroyed extensive areas of peat in western Scotland and Wales. Irish peat struggles with commercial extraction and many upland areas are now tackling the legacy of agricultural drainage and overgrazing. There is also evidence to show that inappropriate heather burning has played a part in some areas of peatland degradation, and the reality is that peat is an important resource which depends upon careful, balanced management. 

The Heather Trust’s involvement in peatland management plays perfectly with our stated aims. Peatland underlies many traditional land uses, and we are ideally positioned to help land owners and land managers to integrate peatland as part of their businesses. We work with a wide range of stakeholders from ecologists to farmers and gamekeepers to make sure that the latest research is always accessible to the people who need to implement it.

The Heather Trust is teaming up with the SRUC and IUCN UK's Peatland Programme to run an event entitled ‘Peatland's Place in the Uplands’. This half-day discussion event (9:30 – 12:00) is for anyone who is interested in managing moorland and upland environments and peatland restoration. It will give those interested in peatland restoration an insight into the decision-making process and choices available whilst also giving upland managers an insight into the case for restoring areas of deep peat on their land.

This informal walk & talk event will allow for plenty of interaction. Professor Davy McCracken, Agricultural Ecologist and Head of Hill and Mountain Research at SRUC and Anne Gray, Director of The Heather Trust will lead an open and inclusive discussion on moorland management whilst allowing attendees to explore the upland landscape being discussed.

Later in the month, we will also deliver a three day series of peatland events alongside Soil Association Scotland in three locations from Sutherland to Galloway. More information will follow on these, but the autumn is set to be busy, interesting and very peaty!

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