Update at Area Committee as Peatlands project funding application submitted
12th February 2014
At yesterday's (Tuesday 11 February) Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee members were given an update on progress for the Flow to the Future project, an ambitious multi-million pound project to restore seven square miles of globally important peatlands which is being co-ordinated by RSPB on behalf of the Peatlands Partnership.
The Peatlands Partnership was formed in 2007 and promotes the special nature and interests of the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland (the Flow Country). It includes The Highland Council, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland, Plantlife International, the Environmental Research Institute, individuals from the local community and other stakeholder organisations.
The committee were advised during a presentation by Ian Mitchell of SNH that an application for funding has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund on 7 February and a decision was expected in May of this year. Members recommended approval in principle to the formal Partnership Agreement between the Council, RSPB, SNH and the North Highland College.
In Autumn 2012 the project received a Stage One pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund and since then the Peatlands Partnership has been busy working on developing the project and preparing to submit the application for funding.
In the proposals the Flow to the Future project will include:
. Trails, viewpoints and information around the Flows to enable people to experience and understand the peatlands and their natural and cultural heritage.
. Online web applications and on-site exhibitions and events to raise awareness amongst wider audiences, encouraging some to visit and others to learn remotely about the Flow Country's international importance for carbon storage and biodiversity.
. An all-ages learning programme aimed at both local and UK-wide audiences.
. Peatland restoration work covering 7 square miles of forested and previously forested blanket bog.
. A new field station with education room/ laboratory space, offices and accommodation for volunteers, students and researchers.
. Opportunities for volunteers both at Forsinard and elsewhere in Caithness and Sutherland which includes habitat conservation, field teaching, delivering talks and workshops.
. A viewing observatory on the existing Dubh Lochans Trail at Forsinard, so that visitors can enjoy a comfortable raised view over a peatland pool system.
. Improvements to the visitor centre at the Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve.
. An Advisory Officer to provide peatland management-related advice and to help local grazings committees, farmers and land managers to access grants for peatland restoration.
Leader of the Area Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay thanked everyone involved in the project for their work in bringing forward the application. She said: "This is a very exciting and ambitious project to provide a world class visitor experience for people in the Flow Country and at the same time carry out restoration work which will improve the peatland habitats for many plants and animal species such as otters, hen harriers and golden plovers.
"It certainly is a thrilling prospect to think that if successful, we will be able to promote the peatlands to a much wider audience through the new facilities and the use of modern technology so people across the world will be inspired by the stunning wildlife and the important role the blanket bogs play today in tackling climate change.
"A lot of hard work has gone in to getting to this stage and everyone involved has been very dedicated and focussed. I would like to thank them for the great work they have done and hope we hear good news later this year."
The Peatlands Of Caithness & Sutherland - Locations
Bad na Gallaig
Blar nam Faoileag
Cnoc an Alaskie
Coir an Eoin
Coire na Beinne Mires
Druim na Coibe
Druim nam Bad
Loch Caluim Flows
Loch Meadie Peatlands
Lochan Buidhe Mires
Moss of Killiminster
Strath an Loin