Less than a third of the Scottish Government’s annual peatland restoration targets have been met over the last two years, prompting campaigners to say plans need to be “dramatically scaled up”, it has been revealed by Paul Dobson, an investigative reporter at The Ferret.
According to the updated Scottish Government Climate Change Plan, 6,000 hectares of degraded peatland were restored in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is well below the latest target set by ministers of restoring 20,000 hectares a year.
In total 25,000 hectares of peatland have been rehabilitated since 2012. The Climate Change Plan earlier set a target of restoring a total of 50,000 hectares by 2020.
Opposition politicians said setting ambitious targets to tackle the climate crisis and then failing to meet them is “becoming characteristic” of the SNP government.
The Scottish Government argued that missed targets “illustrate the scale of the challenge in achieving peatland restoration at the scale required.”
Harvesting peat in Connemara. Pictures by Heather Greer and Bill Heaney
When in good condition, peatlands are a carbon store, meaning they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in soil.
But historical land use practices have led the majority of Scottish peatlands to become eroded and stripped of vegetation.
Once peatlands become degraded in this way, they actually emit more carbon dioxide than they remove and become a net source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
If all of the carbon stored in Scottish peatland were released it would be the equivalent of 140 years of Scotland’s GHG emissions.
Peatlands currently cover over 20 per cent, around 1.9 million hectares, of Scotland’s surface. Around 80 per cent of this is estimated to be in a degraded state.
For the full story please go to The Ferret website