The bid to have the Flow Country in Sutherland recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO has gathered momentum after the Minister for the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, visited the area to sample its rugged beauty.
Ms Gougeon met with members of the Peatlands Partnership and the local community on Tuesday where she was greeted with an update on the heritage site proposal and £10.6million Flows to the Future project.
A campaign has been launched to have the Flow Country recognised by Unesco due to the extensive and high-quality bog habitat present at the site.
In order to be recognised as a site of heritage status, landmarks or areas must present cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance which are worth protecting.
Ms Gougeon said: “I was pleased to see first-hand the vital peatland restoration work that has been undertaken in The Flow Country – and to hear about the work being done to apply for World Heritage Site status.
“UNESCO recognition would boost the area enormously. It would also show how this special part of Scotland – already making a significant contribution in our efforts to tackle climate change – is using nature as a solution to benefit us all.”
The area is recognised as the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe, with peatlands in the area forming since the ice age and measuring at 10metres in depth.
Scottish Natural Heritage chief executive Francesca Oswowska said: “The amazing peatlands in the Flow Country act as Scotland’s lung by storing around 400 million tonnes of carbon; that’s almost five times the estimated carbon in all of Scotland’s woodlands.
“Given Scotland’s recently declared climate emergency, restoration work in the Flow Country is crucial. The phenomenal capacity for peatlands like the Flow Country to store carbon offers Scotland a wonderful way for nature to help us reduce carbon emissions.”