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SHIREs award recognises work of new Cairngorms Peatland ACTION team

By Lorna Thompson

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A NEW team installed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to restore peatland has received recognition for its work so far.

The Peatland ACTION team picked up a win at the SHIREs (Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy) awards on Thursday, November 18, coming out on top in the Rural Natural Capital category.

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 a huge boost.

The new-look team has only been in place for a matter of months.

Programme manager Stephen Corcoran said: "The CNPA officially became a full Peatland ACTION delivery partner in April of this year – managing a three-year programme with a £9.92 million budget – with the aim of delivering over 2,750 hectares of restored peatlands in the national park.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority's Peatland ACTION team.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority's Peatland ACTION team.

"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 assists landowners in designing and delivering peatland restoration projects and awards long-term funding, providing confidence for contractors and continuity in work.

The project also supports the creation of rural jobs in peatland restoration and in the wider rural supply chain.

New entrant programmes have been launched to help train up new civil and plant businesses, which are diversifying into peatland restoration, helping to provide further green rural jobs and tackle the shortage of skilled practitioners equipped to deliver peatland restoration on the ground.

The scale of the challenge is huge. The Cairngorm National Park has around 90,000 hectares of degraded peat and 15 per cent of the bare peat in Scotland. The CNPA is piloting a scheme to bring in private finance to help deliver its peatland restoration aims.

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