The area of peatland restoration that can be delivered each year is limited by a number of factors, including physical accessibility. This short project used existing data on proxies of snow cover and degree of difficulty for access to estimate the proportion of time in an average year that restoration would not be possible.

  • Our results suggest that, nationally, during periods of between 2 to 100 days per year, conditions could make sites physically inaccessible to efforts to carry out peatland restoration. This will vary depending on the specific site location, and our model is able to provide such data for individual locations.
  • Peatland condition categories more likely to be located at higher altitude (e.g. eroded peatland) or further from access roads (e.g. heather- or grass-dominated modified bog) had higher average number of days that would be inaccessible than condition categories associated with better human access (e.g. peat extraction, cropland conversion, intensive grassland).
  • The values were mostly determined by the estimate for snow cover, with only a smaller proportion attributed to the additional time required to access a site.
  • This analysis is highly sensitive to the assumption that the Met Office days of ground frost are an appropriate proxy for the number of days a site would be inaccessible due to snow on the ground.  It does not take into account other restrictions to access.

Since 2012 the Peatland Action Programme has supported restoration of over 10,000 ha of peatland in Scotland.

ClimateXChange researchers in the James Hutton Institute studied the information that was gathered through the process, and captured lessons that could be learned as Scottish Government sets new challenges for restoration under the draft Climate Change Plan.

Further details on the Scheme can be found on the SNH website.