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Climate / Unlocking private finance for peatland restoration

A peatland restoration project in Shetland. Photo: Shetland Amenity Trust

LOCAL landowners and land managers are being encouraged to attend an event next week to help them understand the opportunities available for financing peatland restoration.

Hosted by Peatland ACTION and Shetland Amenity Trust, it will focus on the potential for private financial investment through the sale of carbon units from peatland restoration projects.

Funding for Peatland ACTION comes from the Scottish Government and aims to restore at least 20,000 hectares of Scottish peatlands annually, towards a total of 250,000 hectares by 2030

Stephen Corcoran, a Peatland code auditor with Soil Association will join local Peatland ACTION project officer Sue White to share the benefits of peatland restoration.

They will explain the funding and support available through Peatland ACTION and how the peatland code provides a mechanism to support private finance for peatland restoration and long-term management of damaged peatland.

Peatlands are the largest natural store of carbon on land, but when peat is exposed or its hydrology modified, it emits carbon and thus contributing to climate change.

At present, degraded peatlands are estimated to be responsible for 15 per cent of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Restoration is therefore a crucial aspect of Scotland’s efforts to address the climate emergency, turning peatlands from a carbon emitter to a carbon sink.

Peatland ACTION has so far funded the capital costs of several hundred hectares of peatland restoration across Shetland as well as feasibility studies and peat depth and condition surveys with up to 100 per cent funding available for new projects.

The Peatland Code provides a mechanism to verify how much carbon will be prevented from escaping into the atmosphere by restoration work.

This amount can be converted into carbon credits, which, can then be held by the landowner, or sold to private investors.

White said: “This session will give landowners and managers a good understanding of the processes around Peatland Code with an opportunity to discuss carbon finance opportunities related to peatland restoration projects.”

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The code is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefit of restoration. It provides assurance and clarity for business and other investors in peatland restoration projects through independent validation and verification.

Those interested in joining the event on Friday 1 September will have the opportunity to learn more about the code during a session from 10am to 12.30am at the Shetland Museum learning room, followed by a site visit to a local peatland restoration area.

From 2pm to 4.30pm attendees will visit the Girlsta peatland restoration site, meeting opposite the Old Girlsta Chapel on the Girlsta to Stromfirth Road before ending the day with a question and answer session from 7.30pm to 9pm at the downstairs meeting room of the Shetland Rural Centre.

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