A RECORD number of damaged peatlands was restored in Scotland in the last year.

Official data showed 10,360 hectares of peatland were restored in 2023-24 – the highest ever achieved in a single year.

The average rate of peatland restoration more than doubled in the last two years through 100 different projects, the data showed.

Agriculture minister Jim Fairlie welcomed the efforts ahead of World Peatlands Day on June 2.

Almost three-quarters of Scotland’s near two million hectares are degraded, with restoration methods including rewetting the land by installing dams to block drains, smoothing ploughed ridges and removing trees and reducing grazing intensity.

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In healthy conditions, peatlands capture and store carbon, reduce flood risks and improve water quality.

The Scottish Government has pledged £250 million to restore damaged peatlands, which release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accounting for around 15% of emissions.

Fairlie said: “Restoring degraded peatland is one of the most cost-effective ways we can reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

“There are many benefits, such as reducing flooding risks, improving water quality and improving local biodiversity.

The National:

“Increasing private investment in peatland restoration and maximising the community benefits from these projects is crucial.

“By increasing the pace and scale of peatland restoration we can restore our natural environment and tackle climate change more effectively, and I am very pleased to make this achievement ahead of World Peatlands Day.

“I want to thank everyone across the Peatland Action partnership for all their hard work and commitment this year on achieving this significant milestone.”