Roseanna Cunningham opens £8m fund for peatland restoration projects
Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan includes targets to restore 250,000ha of peatland by 2032
Roseanna Cunningham - credit: David Anderson
Roseanna Cunningham has opened an £8m fund to restore peatland for applications as part of the Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan.
The money, available to communities and land managers through the Peatlands Action Fund, was included in the Scottish Government’s draft climate change plan to help meet targets to restore 250,000ha of peatland by 2032.
Although RSPB Scotland welcomed the target, the organisation used its response to a consultation on the plan to warn that the “policy lacks some credibility given that the existing lower target has been repeatedly missed”.
But Sheila George, Land Use Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland, welcomed the funding as “great news”.
She said: “The Peatland Action Scheme has previously provided significant support for peatland restoration on and off RSPB Scotland reserves. Peatland restoration not only delivers biodiversity benefits but can increase capacity for carbon capture and storage, produce clean water and has strong cultural and economic benefits for rural communities. We look forward to engaging with and continuing to support the scheme as it goes from strength to strength.”
Opening the fund for applications, Cunningham said that restoring peatlands is “crucial” to achieving Scotland’s low carbon ambitions and in reducing emissions by 66 per cent by 2032.
She said: “By increasing our investment more communities will be able to transform and use peatlands as an open space, regenerating it as a habitat for wildlife and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Since 2013 our peatland restoration work has already transformed more than 10,000 hectares with this new funding set to deliver a step change in our approach by restoring 8,000 hectares in 2017-18 and ultimately lead to our goal of 250,000 by 2032.”
“Developing peatlands is just one area covered in our draft Climate Change Plan which sets out the real on the ground changes that need to happen across our economy to achieve our ambitious targets.”
The Scottish Wildlife Trust also welcomed the funding in its response to the draft plan, while calling for a separate line in the budget statement to clarify how financial commitment to peatland restoration will be carried through in subsequent budgets.
It said: “This would avoid boom-bust cycles of funding which can undo the local economic benefits arising from peatland restoration including losing skilled contractors”.
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But GIB chair Lord Smith of Kelvin backed the sale following commitments to uphold GIB's green investment principles and report transparently on its green impact