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New peatland restoration scheme proposed for part of Flow Country

By Alan Hendry

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A new peatland restoration scheme is being proposed for part of the Flow Country where there is evidence that the blanket bog is drying out.

A planning application has been lodged with Highland Council by the Dunbeath Partnership for the Glutt Estate phase two restoration project.

It is proposed that work would start next month and continue until March 2023.

The proposed restoration site extends to 752.06 hectares within the Rumsdale Peatlands and Knockfin Heights sites of special scientific interest.

These form part of the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) / Special Protection Area and Ramsar sites which are designated for a number of features, including blanket bog, breeding birds and otters.

The restoration site adjoins the River Thurso SAC which is designated for Atlantic salmon.

A document submitted as part of the planning application states: "The east of the site is characterised by mainly drained blanket bog and some erosion features on sloping terrain. The central and western parts of the restoration site are dominated by erosion features such as hags and gullies.

"There is a combined total of 35,731mm of drains, 11,424m of hags and 54,282m of gullies in the restoration site... Blanket bog vegetation found adjacent to these drains, hags and gullies indicates the bog is drying out.

"Additionally many of the gully bases have bare peat and eroding edges, indicating the peat is being continually eroded from the bog via weathering forces of wind, water and frost. It would be beneficial to rewet the site by constructing dams termed surface bunds which will arrest further erosion and favour the growth of sphagnum moss to form new peat."

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