The Abercairny Estate Peatland Restoration Feasibility Assessment, Perth and Kinross

NatureScot sought to undertake a feasibility study into the potential for peatland restoration on the Abercairny Estate. The project fell under the wider Peatland Action project which aims to improve the condition of Scotland’s ~2 million hectares (ha) of peatlands. The Abercairny Estate, located northeast of Crieff, Perthshire, contains ~213 ha of peatland habitat prioritised for restoration.  The predominant land use focuses on country sports and agriculture.

Following extensive drainage of the peat via artificial drainage channels, land management practices and changes to vegetation cover, the peat had been significantly damaged through erosion and slumping. This project investigated the degree and extent of peat degradation present within the study areas culminating in a feasibility assessment of restoration measures to improve the habitat and mitigate against any further deterioration of this carbon store. Peatland restoration has three main objectives; to rewet, revegetate and/ or slow the drainage of the peat.

Restoration interventions sought to deliver on one or multiple of these objectives, to stabilise the peat, restore natural, self-sustaining ecosystem function and mitigate against erosion which could lead to further degradation of the habitat and carbon release.

The condition of the peat and factors leading to the degradation of this habitat, if any, was assessed for each of the five priority sites identified within Abercairny Estate. The findings of this conditions assessment fed into the production of a peatland restoration management plan for the Estate, highlighting areas where construction work is deemed feasible and beneficial. Constraints to restoration, permitting requirements and future monitoring recommendation was also identified for the estate and each individual site as appropriate.