Pioneering scientific research by The James Hutton Institute into Scotland’s globally important peatlands has been recognised at the leading Scottish nature conservation awards.

The Hutton’s work to put “peatland on the map” won the Nature of Scotland Conservation Science Award during a prestigious awards ceremony held at the EICC in Edinburgh last night (November 22).

Over the last 10 years, the team has driven deeper understanding of the importance of Scotland’s peatland to the conservation of the natural environment and their role in contributing to, or mitigating, greenhouse gas emission.

Through the production of a wide body of research, the Hutton’s interdisciplinary peatland team has enabled direct action, informing restoration and protection efforts of peatlands.

Dr Rebekka Artz, who leads the Restoration and Adaptive Management team at the Hutton, says, “We’re honoured to be recognised for this award amongst such a selection of impactful conservation science teams. The peatland research team at the Hutton is a truly fantastic group of people focused on delivering scientific evidence with integrity and impact.

“Our work has contributed significantly to understanding the effectiveness of peatland restoration, the condition that peatlands – which form a quarter of our land mass – are in, the greenhouse gas emissions damaged peatlands emit and the mitigation potential and other ecosystem function gains that can be achieved through their restoration.”

The team’s work has included, for example, putting a first estimate on the total net losses of carbon from damaged peatlands in Scotland, which supported the development of realistic targets for restoration.

The team’s research outputs have also supported the development of peatland-specific targets and instruments to deliver restoration, via the Third Land Use Strategy, the Update to the Climate Change Plan, and the draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

The team work closely with Peatland ACTION, RSPB Scotland, Forestry & Land Scotland and other key peatland managers and restoration delivery bodies to deliver better conservation outcomes.

The awards recognise the individuals and organisations making a difference in their local communities, businesses and schools to support Scotland’s wildlife and special places.

The awards ceremony, now in its 12th year and co-sponsored by the RSPB and NatureScot, was hosted by zoologist, TV presenter and RSPB Ambassador Megan McCubbin and TV presenter and nature enthusiast JJ Chalmers.

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