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The Peatland ACTION team at the Cairngorms National Park Authority are celebrating their win at last night’s SHIREs awards, coming out on top in the Rural Natural Capital category.
The SHIREs (Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy) celebrate Scotland’s modern rural economy, from the traditional to the innovative, and from land and trees to the sea. Covering a wide area from Moray in the east to the Outer Hebrides, and from Shetland and Orkney down through Caithness and all the way to Argyll.
For the CNPA’s Peatland ACTION team, recognition of the work that has been achieved despite the challenges of Covid-19 and contractor capacity is of huge significance, with the new-look team having only been in place for a matter of months.
Peatlands ACTION Programme Manager, Stephen Corcoran said: “We were delighted to be nominated in the SHIREs, and are over the moon to have won the Rural Natural Capital category, which recognises projects that are making a substantial contribution to preserving and enhancing Scotland’s Natural Capital and helping us on our journey towards net zero carbon emissions targets.
“The CNPA officially became a full Peatland ACTION delivery partner in April of this year – managing a three year programme with a £9.92million budget – with the aim of delivering over 2,750 hectares of restored peatlands in the National Park.
“Peatlands are huge carbon stores but with most of Scotland’s peatlands currently degraded they emit millions of tonnes of harmful CO2 each year. As such, the Scottish Government has been funding peatland restoration projects since 2012, initially through NatureScot – and now us.”
The team assist landowners with advice, guidance and support in designing and delivering peatland restoration projects and is able to award funding over multiple years, providing confidence for contractors and continuity in work. The project is supporting a host of rural jobs directly in peatland restoration and many more in the wider rural supply chain.
The CNPA Peatland ACTION programme is not only about investing directly in internal resources to deliver peatland restoration but is also running new entrant programmes to help train up new civil and plant businesses, which are diversifying into peatland restoration. This is helping to provide further green rural jobs and helping to tackle the current shortage of skilled practitioners equipped to deliver peatland restoration on the ground.
The scale of the challenge is huge as the Cairngorm National Park has around 90,000 hectares of degraded peat and 15% of the bare peat in Scotland. Therefore, to help deliver this scale of peatland restoration, the CNPA is piloting a green finance initiative to bring in private finance within a social and ethical framework.