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30 July, 2019

Minister visits proposed UNESCO site in Flow Country

Minister visits proposed UNESCO site in Flow Country: Flow Country visit - Mairi Gougeon Gail Ross Frances Gunn - July 2019

Minister for the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, visited the Flow Country’s proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site today.

Ms Gougeon met members of the Peatlands Partnership and the local community, and was updated on the heritage site proposal and £10.6 million Flows to the Future Project. She also visited the RSPB Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve to see previous peatland restoration work.

The Flow Country is being proposed as a World Heritage Site because of its extensive, high quality blanket bog habitat. The Flow Country is on the UK's tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Peatlands help with carbon capture and improve water quality, among other benefits.

Ms Gougeon said:

“I was pleased to see first-hand the vital peatland restoration work that has been undertaken in The Flow Country - and to hear about the work being done to apply for World Heritage Site status. UNESCO recognition would boost the area enormously. It would also show how this special part of Scotland – already making a significant contribution in our efforts to tackle climate change – is using nature as a solution to benefit us all."

Joe Perry, The Peatland's Partnership's World Heritage Project Co-ordinator added:

“I'm really delighted that the Minister has come up to the Flow Country to hear about the progress we’re making towards getting this amazing place listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see why international experts have described the Flow Country as the best peatland of its type in the world.”

The Flow Country, and peatlands in general, are a vital part of mitigating against climate change. The area is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe. The peatlands have been forming since the last Ice Age and are 10 metres deep in places.

Francesca Osowska, Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) Chief Executive, said:
“The amazing peatlands in the Flow Country act as Scotland’s lung by storing around 400 million tonnes of carbon; that's almost five times the estimated carbon in all of Scotland's woodlands. Given Scotland's recently declared climate emergency, restoration work in the Flow Country is crucial. The phenomenal capacity for peatlands like the Flow Country to store carbon offers Scotland a wonderful way for nature to help us reduce carbon emissions.” 

The Scottish Government recently committed an extra £11 million, following an initial commitment of £3 million earlier this year, to help repair and restore Scotland’s peatland areas. Restoration work includes improving areas of wetlands by reducing drainage and slowing water flow on peatland, as well as covering areas of peat exposed to the elements, helping to lock in carbon and reduce potentially harmful C02 emissions.

ENDS

PICTURES

Captions: 

Top picture: Mairi Gougeon, Minister for the Natural Environement, Gail Ross MSP (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) and Frances Gunn, Chair of The Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group.

Group picture, back Row - L to R: Darrell Stevens - RSPB Reserve Manager, Forsinard Flows NNR; Joe Perry – WHS Project Coordinator; Thomas MacDonell – Wildland Limited; Professor Stuart Gibb – Chairman of the Peatlands Partnership  (Environmental Research Institute/University of the Highlands and Islands); Gail Ross MSP; Roxane Andersen – Environmental Research Institute; Frances Gunn – Chair, WHS Working Group; Andrew Coupar – SNH; Martin Thomsen  - Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Front Row L to R: Councillor Mathew Reiss  - The Highland Council; Mairi Gougeon MSP – Minister for the Natural Environment; Ian Mitchell - SNH; David Richardson – Federation of Small Businesses.

Scenic picture: Mairi Gougeon and members of the Peatlands Partnership and its World Heritage Site Working Group walking to the Flows Lookout on RSPB’s Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve.

Credit all photos to © David Richardson (Federation of Small Businesses)

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Contact the SNH main press office on 0131 316 2655 or snhmedia@nature.scot .

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Notes to editors

The Peatland Partnership includes Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland, The Highland Council, The Environmental Research Institute (University of the Highlands and Islands), Forestry and Land Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Plantlife International, Highland Third Sector Interface, the Flow Country Rivers Trust, Northern Deer Management Group and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It is chaired by Professor Stuart Gibb of the Environmental Research Institute/University of the Highlands and Islands. The Partnership operates over the whole of Sutherland and Caithness and includes the internationally important blanket bog area known as the Flow Country.

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nature_scot

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Flow Country visit - Mairi Gougeon Gail Ross Frances Gunn - July 2019

Flow Country visit - Mairi Gougeon Gail Ross Frances Gunn - July 2019

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Flow Country visit - group photo - 30 July 2019

Flow Country visit - group photo - 30 July 2019

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Flow Country - Mairi Gougeon visit - 30 July 2019

Flow Country - Mairi Gougeon visit - 30 July 2019

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