Peatland conservation organisations and experts from across the world have joined together with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Peatlands Initiative (GPI) to pledge their collective commitment to tacking climate change, protecting nature and forging ahead for the health of the planet. The network of organisations is beginning a press and social media collaboration to share experiences and celebrate the successes of ongoing work. The joint effort will highlight the importance of peatlands to the planet and focus on the different ways that organisations are working towards their conservation, restoration and sustainable management across the world.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) Peatland ACTION Officers have facilitated over 2,000 hectares of peatland restoration since 2014, but these efforts need to be scaled up to address the nature and climate crisis and contribute to the Scottish Government net zero carbon emissions targets set for 2045.
In April 2021, the CNPA became a direct delivery partner of the Scottish Government / NatureScot Peatland ACTION programme. Which means that the CNPA are now able to directly award funding for peatland restoration projects within the Cairngorms National Park. The team of experienced Peatland ACTION Officers provide advice, guidance and support in designing and delivering impactful peatland restoration projects.
A major hurdle in scaling up efforts is contractor availability in the local area. Peatland restoration, especially in challenging upland locations and on sites with complex erosion, requires skilled contractors who can work safely and deliver the best outcomes in restoring degraded peatland habitats. Contracting companies may be put off from branching into restoration work for various reasons, including the expense of purchasing machines or adapting machines for working on deep peat, the harsh conditions (most projects take place in the colder months to avoid impacting breeding birds), uncertainty regarding likelihood of future work, difficulty recruiting the right team, and so on.
The CNPA are digging deep into how to make work contracts more attractive. This includes a plan to award multi-year funding packages, providing confidence for contractors and continuity in work so that they can see the impact of their hard work, dedication and commitment to climate action. Over the next 3 years alone the CNPA Peatland ACTION programme plans to award £10 million in funding awards for peatland restoration, supporting a host of green and meaningful rural jobs directly in peatland restoration and many more in the wider supply chain.
CNPA Peatland ACTION is running new entrant programmes to help train up local civil and plant businesses, which are diversifying into peatland restoration. This is providing further green rural jobs and helping to tackle the current shortage of skilled practitioners equipped to deliver peatland restoration on the ground. This new entrant programme aims to enable more companies to become skilled in delivering drain blocking work using the latest techniques.
CNPA Peatland ACTION Project Officer, Daisy Whytock, said: “We have two ‘new entrants’ sites operational at the moment and are working with four companies in total. It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm the machine operators bring to the job, and how quickly they can master the drain blocking techniques. All going well, we hope to see each of the new entrants tendering for bigger projects and eventually tackling eroding sites.”
Dianna Kopansky, Global Peatlands Coordinator from UNEP highlights the importance of creating green jobs, she said: “Green and meaningful rural jobs are the future, where work-life balance and purpose comes together to help people who are connected to a place, stay there and provide for themselves and their families for generations to come.
“There is nothing quite like being out in nature and this important work of contractors to repair and restore peatlands is important not just for Scotland but for the world. Jobs of the future like these are going to be looking at how to contribute to halting climate change and supporting nature to build back better for generations to thrive. Green, meaningful rural jobs are so important for our health and wellbeing and a key to our sustainable development.”
A relay of stories from peatland projects worldwide has started with the UK, as the host of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, taking place in Glasgow. The relay features the North Pennines AONB, the Care-Peat project in Belgium, NUI Galway, five EU transnational projects (Carbon Connects, Care-Peat, DESIRE, LIFE Peat Restore, and CANAPE), Bax & Company who straddle the UK, Spain and The Netherlands, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, The GPI and EUROSITE Peatlands Social Media Campaign, NABU, Moors for the Future Partnership, Metsähallitus with its Hydrology LIFE Project, Natural Resources Wales and the LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs Project, Community Wetlands Forum and Landscape Finance Lab, Geospatial Insight-Terra Motion, Green Restoration Ireland Coop (GRI), a major restoration effort in Belarus recognized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and Conservatoires d’Espaces Naturels (CEN).
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