Funding Announced for First Outer Hebrides Peatland Restoration Project

26 July 2019
Shores of Loch Orasaigh

Damaged and eroded peatland at Loch Orasaigh

A Black Throated  Diver

A Black Throated Diver © Laurie Campbell, SNH

Funding for a new peatland restoration project which aims to improve water quality, tackle climate change and help protect Black Throated Divers and Great Skua in the Outer Hebrides has been confirmed in celebration of International Bog Day on July 28.

Working alongside Scottish Water, Soval Estate and Ranish Common Grazings Committee, the Peatland ACTION project will focus on restoring 11 hectares of damaged and eroding peatland within the Loch Orasaigh drinking water catchment area which serves the North Lochs Water Treatment Works on the Isle of Lewis. 

At a cost of £1,700 a hectare, the scheme offers a relatively inexpensive way of tackling climate change, as well as potentially reducing water treatment costs by minimising the amount of peat being washed into the loch - helping secure a strategically important drinking water supply in the Outer Hebrides.

It will also help preserve the local environment, with a recent survey confirming the loch is home to two of Scotland’s protected species – Black Throated Divers and Great Skua. 

Malcolm Walker, Scottish Water Catchment Liaison Officer, said: 

“Every day, Scottish Water provides 1.46 billion litres of clear fresh drinking water to its customers, much of which comes from peatland catchments.

“We are therefore acutely aware of the links between peatland condition and our drinking water catchments, having also worked with Peatland ACTION on other projects across Scotland. 

“Restoring damaged peatlands by blocking man-made ditches and revegetating areas of bare peat may reduce the amount of peat being washed into our treatment works, which could in turn lead to reduced treatment costs, as well as helping protect and preserve the natural environment.”

Ben Inglis-Grant, SNH’s Peatland ACTION Project Officer hosted by The Carloway Estate Trust, said: 
“Around 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are estimated to be damaged, through man-made drainage and other land-use pressures as well as natural erosion taking place. By restoring our peatlands they can begin actively functioning as they should, by storing water and capturing carbon.

“Peatland Action aims to make a difference across the length and breadth of Scotland and by working together with Scottish Water in this remote area, we can deliver multiple benefits to both people and nature, from carbon capture to clean drinking water and supporting natural ecosystems, which are so intrinsic to our existence.

“These kind of nature-based solutions are also integral to tackling the climate emergency we are all facing.”

The Peatland ACTION Project is a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) initiative, funded by Scottish Government, to capture carbon by restoring Scotland’s peatlands.

Loch Orasaigh peatland restoration

Work is underway to restore peatbogs at Loch Orasaigh on the Isle of Lewis