Flow Country (Highland)

Please turn on JavaScript.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions.

The Flow Country

The Flow Country covers much of Caithness in Scotland’s far north east, and has done so since the end of the last ice age. It is an ancient and almost unique environment. It is a peat bog, classified as a ‘blanket bog’ by ecologists, the largest in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in the world. Dr Iain Stewart attempts to climb a thirty-five metre Douglas Fir in homage to the tree hunters who travelled the globe searching for exotic species that could be replanted in Scotland. Dr Iain Stewart uncovers how, over thousands of years, the actions of mankind and the climate nearly led to the downfall of Scotland's forests. Only in the 18th century did we realise the extent of the damage, and take measures to re-populate the landscape.

The Flow Country is a large expanse of peat bog in Caithness and Sutherland. Covering 4000 square kilometres, it is the largest area of blanket bog in Europe. Dating from the end of the last ice age, the bog has developed due to the damp, acid conditions that have encouraged the growth of sphagnum moss. As the moss rots it slowly forms peat. The same conditions that cause peat to form make the Flow Country unsuitable for farming and the area has been largely preserved from human development. In the 1980s, some areas of the bog habitat were planted with forestry but the introduction of non-native conifers and artificial drainage have dried out the peat, contributing to its erosion. Large areas of these plantations have been felled and attempts are being made to restore them to blanket bog.

Features of the area

Highland Group

Highland is one of Scotland’s 32 unitary council areas. It is the largest local government area in both Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.

The area was created as a two-tier region in 1975 with Highland Region being divided into eight districts, Badenoch and Strathspey, Caithness, Inverness, Lochaber, Nairn, Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh and Sutherland.

In 1996, Highland Regional Council and the district councils were wound up and their functions were transferred to a new Highland Council. It borders Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, and Argyll and Bute.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.