Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Gibson lodges Peatlands motion

News release
Immediate release

New research into peatland shows the vital role which the Flow Country, which straddles the Caithness and Sutherland border, can play in protecting the environment and saving money.

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the findings of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is made up of governments, environmental groups and scientists, which says that in Scotland peatlands store over three billion tones of carbon.

The IUCN said that further investment in the protection, creation and expansion of these boglands, which have been likened to the South American rain forests because of their importance in absorbing carbon, is needed to help offset even more carbon in the atmosphere.

The IUCN calculates that if the Scottish Government invested in restoring and expanding peat and bog lands at the rate of 600,000 hectares of a year then by 2015 potentially 2.4million tones of carbon could be taken out of the atmosphere each year. Saving the Government £47 million worth of carbon damage each year.

Mr Gibson has also lodged a parliamentary motion to praise the decision of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to base in Scotland the work of its UK Peatland Programme and Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands.

He said,

“Peatlands are a precious and fairly common feature in Scotland. Therefore I welcome the IUNC backed call to extend peatland ecosystems and restore peatlands to stop them releasing greenhouse gases as they dry out.”

“I am delighted that the Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland is a great example where blocking drains is rebuilding the resilience of our biggest peatland. Also I am pleased that attracting tourists to this unique landscape and ecosystem adds to local revenue as well as providing jobs for local people for blocking drains.”

“I believe that public investment in restoring deep peat could reap a huge financial benefit as well as reinforce the fight against Climate Change. I am pleased that the Scottish Government is considering how to respond to this opportunity.”


Copy of rob's motion:

Investing in the Future of Scotland’s Peatlands
That the Parliament welcomes the launch of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme and Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands with funding from the Peter De Haan Charitable Trust and believes that IUCN UK’s decision to base this prestigious programme in Scotland is recognition of the global significance of Scotland’s peatlands and underlines that Scotland leads the world in peatland restoration expertise; considers that, while scientific understanding of peatlands is developing rapidly, the knowledge base is strong enough to recognise that peatlands deliver multiple benefits for biodiversity, water and climate and that the example of the Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland shows how peatlands can deliver significant economic benefits to local communities through encouraging visitors to these beautiful and fragile landscapes; believes that the land use strategy required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 provides an opportunity for peatland restoration to be championed at the heart of government, and further believes that action taken now could prevent massive future costs arising from the breakdown of peatland ecosystems and that target-based peatland restoration offers an important opportunity to help meet Scotland's climate change targets.

Lodged by Rob Gibson. Supported by Sarah Boyack and Liam McArthur

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