Scottish Forestry acts to save peat

While tree planting has been widely viewed as the number one answer to carbon capture, the realisation that this is not always the case is dawning among policy developers.

And yesterday new guidance was issued by Scottish Forestry to reduce the use of disruptive techniques when preparing the ground for woodland creation – with a key measure aimed at reducing ploughing on peaty soils in a bid to help protect important carbon sinks which are also vital for biodiversity.

These measures mean that after October 1, Scottish Forestry will not accept any grant applications which include ploughing on soils where peat depth exceeds 10 cm.

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The organisation said the move followed scientific analysis of soils by the Forest Research agency which found that ploughing on soils with an organic layer greater than 10cm represented a significant risk of soil carbon emissions which could stop the soil sequestering carbon for 20 years or more.

Given the importance of woodland creation in achieving net-zero by 2045, the action is being taken to prevent unnecessary emissions.

“The use of ploughing to prepare ground for planting is declining but we’re determined that we should do everything we can to protect our environment and climate,” said Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform.

“By following this new guidance we can achieve a better balance between minimising soil disturbance and giving our trees the best chance of reabsorbing released carbon as quickly as possible.”

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