Highlands & Islands

Caithness and Sutherland peat bog restoration plan wins £4m

A project to restore seven square miles (18.1 sq km) of blanket bog in Caithness and Sutherland has been awarded a £4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Peatland Partnership's Flow to the Future scheme needs £9.6m in total.

It also wants to develop an education centre and build a new observatory near the RSPB's Forsinard Flows reserve.

Called the Flow Country, the area is just a small part of one of Europe's largest expanses of blanket bog.

Image copyright Andy hay/rspb images

RSPB Scotland, a member of the Peatland Partnership, has described the Flow Country as one of the last remaining areas of wild land in the UK.

The organisation's George Campbell said: "We'll be doing a lot of work on taking away trees that are in the wrong place and blocking up drains and restoring about seven square miles of bog - which is a very significant bit of work in itself - and we'll be telling people about that."

The ancient environment has vast amounts of carbon locked into its peat. The soil stores an estimated 400 million tonnes - more than double the amount of carbon in all the UK's forests.

Image copyright Andy hay/rspb images

Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Highland Council, Plantlife Scotland and the Environmental Research Institute UHI are also members of the partnership.

Its restoration project involves removing commercial forestry, removing drains and restoring water courses.

Image copyright Icosis Architects

A new observatory has been proposed as part of the £9.6m.

Image copyright Icosis architects

The observatory would be a new addition to the RSPB's visitor centre at Forsinard Railway Station.

Image copyright Icosis architects

The visitor centre at the station will also get a revamp as part of the project.

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