|Ditch blocking in action|
There was plenty to see on the open hill during a bright morning with fine views of snow on the high ground and black grouse on the wing. The group heard from the contractor undertaking ditch-blocking on the farm, discussing the practical "nuts and bolts" of blocking old ditches, and this conversation was balanced with funding and financial support for the work. Consensus seemed to agree that ditch blocking can be financially viable, but only where sufficient ground is covered and enough ditches are tackled. It was also useful to agree that the work which went into draining this ground in the 1960s and 70s has not been repaid with a proportionate improvement in agricultural output, and badly degraded peatland is of no use to anyone.
After some discussion from Richard Lockett (Lockett agri-environmental), Sandra Stewart (Farming & Conservation) and Emily Taylor (Crichton Carbon Centre), we also heard from George Hepburne Scott from Forest Carbon, who talked about future finance mechanisms for large scale peatland restoration work. Heather Trust Project Manager Patrick Laurie was on hand to talk about the realities of managing land for peat, drawing on the recent discussions which took place at the major wildfire sites in the Peak District as part of our AGM and conference.
Events like these are extremely valuable as we begin to convert the latest science into policy and practice, and it is crucial that farmers and land managers are brought along in discussions about the future of our uplands.