Peatland in North Lochs is to be restored to its natural state as part of a peatland action project announced yesterday (Sunday July 28th).

Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Water will work together on 11 hectares of damaged and eroding peatland within the Loch Orasaigh drinking water catchment area, which serves the North Lochs Water Treatment Works.
Work will include re-profiling peat hags, blocking drainage ditches and encouraging the stabilisation of vegetation around the edge of the loch.

It’s a relatively inexpensive way of tackling climate change, locking in greenhouse gases and promoting carbon storage. It also helps cut down water treatment costs by minimising the amount of peat being washed into the loch.

A recent survey confirmed that the loch is home to two of Scotland’s protected species – Black Throated Divers and Great Skua – and plant species like the oblong-leaved sundew thrive in the marshy areas around the loch.

Ben Inglis-Grant, the Peatland ACTION Project Officer based at Carloway Estate Trust, said: “Around 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are estimated to be damaged, through man-made drainage and other land-use pressures as well as natural erosion taking place. By restoring our peatlands they can begin actively functioning as they should, by storing water and capturing carbon.

“These kind of nature-based solutions are also integral to tackling the climate emergency we are all facing.”
Malcolm Walker, Scottish Water Catchment Liaison Officer, said: “We are acutely aware of the links between peatland condition and our drinking water catchments, having also worked with Peatland ACTION on other projects across Scotland.”

The picture shows a peat hag being reprofiled, where the steep edges of the bare overhang are reduced, and ‘borrowed’ vegetation from healthy areas is stretched over the re-profiled surface. (Lorne Gill/SNH).