A new Shetland Amenity Trust “Peatland Restoration” project has been established with an aim to raise awareness of the importance of blanket bogs.
The project will not only highlight the wildlife the bogs support, but also the other ecosystem “services” they provide such as carbon sequestration and storage, regulating water flow and purifying water.
Newly-appointed peatland restoration project officer Sue White said: “Most folk are aware of the importance of the rainforests in the carbon cycle on our planet but humble peatbogs actually store more than three times as much carbon as the rainforests and can help protect our planet from climate change.
“The UK’s peatlands are a huge carbon store, with an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon locked up in the peat. Over half of the area of Shetland is covered in peat which has been accumulating at a rate of about 1mm a year for at least 3,000 years.
“Once damaged, however, peatland cannot deliver the same range of benefits and peatland that has been drained and is drying out or eroding, will actually be releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“Fortunately there are some fairly simple management measures that can be undertaken to restore peatlands, with funding available for projects such as the Amenity Trust’s, through the Peatland Action Fund administered by Scottish Natural Heritage.”
Ms White will be able to assist land managers or common grazings committees in assessing the condition of their peatland – identifying management practices that could improve the condition of the habitat and obtain funding for this work.
She added: “Next time you are out walking in the hills, caaing stock or casting peats or just gazing out over the landscape; keep in mind the thousands of years of history and thousands of tonnes of carbon stored beneath that unassuming moss and heather.”