Peatland restoration project to protect landscape

Peatland restoration project to protect landscape

A restoration programme has begun on the Langwell and Braemore Estate in Caithness, part of the Welbeck estate, in a bid to improve the ancient bog peatlands and tackle climate change.

The planned work on the moors, near Berriedale in the Scottish Highlands, is part of a long-term environmental programme to manage and preserve the peatlands. This project aims to restore the growing conditions needed by the bog peatlands on the estate.

As the superheroes of the ecosystem, blanket bogs naturally store carbon and release oxygen needed to combat global warming. The bogs also provide a unique habitat for wildlife, whilst improving water quality and controlling water flow, reducing potential for flooding downstream.

The Langwell estate forms part of the Caithness and Sutherland Flow Country, which is a candidate for World Heritage Site status thanks to the presence of this blanket bog; the largest expanse of bog in Europe. The estate, which was originally purchased by the Duke of Portland in 1857, forms part of the Welbeck Estates Company.

Over the next two months work will take place on the Langwell estate to block drains to return the area to wetland so that the plants and mosses can flourish again. The team in Caithness has already blocked around 160km of drains over an area covering around 3,500 acres. The new project will block a further 100km of drains. The combined impact of this could lead to a carbon saving equivalent of the footprint of around 500 people.

Anson MacAuslan, who manages the Langwell and Braemore estate, said: “We have previously carried out two projects on the estate in Caithness. This third project will perform two primary functions for us. Firstly, it will re-wet peatland areas and allow them to store carbon and, secondly, it will improve water quality in the rivers as it will reduce the amount of peat being washed down the river.”

“When the drains were originally created, the aim was to improve the land for agriculture and make it more productive. The need to store carbon now is much more pressing than it was 50 years ago.”