Successful peatland restoration on Rum


A project to restore peatlands on Rum National Nature Reserve is seeing quick results, helping to tackle climate change and improve biodiversity.

The project in Kinloch Glen was recently completed with £30,000 of funding from the NatureScot Peatland ACTION Fund. More than 17 ha of peatland habitat has been put on the road to restoration, including blocking more than 10 km of man-made ditches to reduce their draining effect and help restore natural processes.

Red-throated Diver breeds at Rum National Nature Reserve (Daniel Gornall).

Peatlands cover more than 20% of Scotland, and much of our drinking water flows through these catchments, making healthy peatlands crucial for drinking water quality at source. Peatlands also hold most of Scotland's land-based carbon store. They are estimated to hold the equivalent of 140 years' worth of Scotland's total annual greenhouse gas emissions. It is also estimated that 80% of Scotland's peatlands are damaged.

Lesley Watt, NatureScot's Rum NNR manager, said: "We were really keen to restore this area of peatland to improve the condition of the habitats on Rum. It's amazing to see how quickly the water pools behind the new peat dams. We are looking forward to the dragonflies and damselflies hovering around these new pools in the summer.

"This area is close to the main track onto the NNR, so a walk up the glen is a good way to see this peatland restoration and also Golden Eagles and Red-throated Divers, both of which breed in good numbers on the reserve."

The restoration area was in deep peat, up to 3.5 m, which had been drained before the site was a NNR. The work included blocking the old drains to raise the water table and encourage the growth of peatland vegetation, especially the principle bog builder Sphagnum moss, and allow the peatland to function more naturally. Drains were blocked with peat dams every 10 m, using specialist machinery to minimise the damage to the bog surface.