Reporting. In the north of Scotland, peatlands as a climate solution

  Reporting.  In the north of Scotland, peatlands as a climate solution

There’s Nothing Like the Peatlands of the HighlandsScotland, in the counties of Sutherland and Caithness: the flow country. Vikings, who conquered hilly terrain and IXI century, already called it flowy, A swamp, in Old Norse, where one easily drowns, judged without interest. A strange landscape, both moist and fluffy, populated by eroded mountains and waterlogged valleys.

150,000 hectares important

These have become 150,000 inaccessible hectares Important to Scotland’s carbon footprint. peatlands of flow country are the largest in Europe, unique in the world itself. They store about 400 million tons of carbon, thanks to a plant called sphagnum moss., assures Andrew Cooper of the environmental agency Nature Scott.

This type of moss, which sprouts from its beautiful starry heads, can absorb an incredible amount of water. And it receives it in the Highlands, the wettest land in Europe, with an annual rainfall of up to 4,577 mm, (against an average of 767 mm). Brittany)

When sphagnum mosses die, they never completely decompose, but gradually accumulate as peat., description Andrew Cooper. It forms a cover on limestone and sandstone soils. In flow country it can reach up to ten meters in some places. Millions of tons of dead sphagnum moss – there are twenty-nine different species – have accumulated over 6,000 years.

At Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve, restoring peat swamps involves … cutting down trees. © Vincent Michel / Ouest-France

many dangers

In good health, Flow Country is said to be a carbon trap five times more powerful than any Scottish forest. It is not, because it has to face many dangers, such as burns Or exploiting Pete. But he has an even more formidable enemy: trees. It would be crazy for all the companies that brag about putting it thousand per year To offset their greenhouse gas emissions, but conservation here essentially involves cutting down trees.


“The 2,600 hectares of peat swamp has already been restored,” notes Anna Grozelier, curator of the Forsinard Flow Nature Reserve. © Vincent Michel / Ouest-France

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not all ! we love rare native essenceThe nuances, commissioned by Anna Grozelier, a Parisian curator, Nature Reserve foresinard flow, managed by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The bad guys are pines and spruce native to the Americas, fast-growing conifers that landowners were encouraged to plant in the 1970s-1980s through tax relief, in order to profit from this barren land.

Monocultures dry, dry, modify the natural flow of waterBen Oliver Jones, head of the Nature Reserve, explains foresinard flow, while driving his Land Rover, on a plot of land undergoing restoration. Perfectly aligned trunks line the path.

Many are sick. They grew up on acidic soils poor in nutrients. They will likely crumble to heat or to a pulp. As evergreens mature, some homeowners are realizing that they have better accepted our offers.


“Monocultures have dried up, dried up…”, condemns Ben Oliver Jones, head of the Forsinard Flow Nature Reserve. © Vincent Michel / Ouest-France

A major restoration project is underway

The Scottish Peatland Restoration Project – a £250 million investment over ten years – involves negotiations with owners to purchase private land or agree to uproot their trees. Au Flow Country, 2,600 hectares have been restored, Anna Grozelier notes. It works in permanent contact with scientists who have staked the sensor field to measure gas, temperature and rain flow.

And it works. at the bottom of the observation tower foresinard flowIn this, geologist Steven Andrew jumps over a flat boulder that marks a path for visitors. Look, it bounces under our feet. This is a sign of good health, such as a narrowing of the lungs, laughs off the person who coordinated to classify the project flow country on the World Heritage List ofUNESCO. This would be a first for a swamp. We cross fingers.

Photograph a UNESCO heritage inscription?

UNESCO heritage inscription? “This will be a first for a swamp,” says Steven Andrews, Flow Country bidding coordinator. © Vincent Michel / Ouest-France

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Looks like the matter is off to a good start for 2022 or 2023. Glasgow Cop 26 welcomes The first pavilion in the history of climate conferences dedicated to peatlands around the world – Most of them are in the boreal zone, in Canada, in Russia, but some are also in the tropical zone, in Indonesia.

NS flow country, which alone holds 5% of the world resources of the so-called covered peatlands, will continue to be in the limelight. The address is a symbol of Scottish conservation, while 50% of the EU’s peatlands are degraded. Then they do the opposite of their natural role: they emit carbon.


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