Scotland’s First Academic Peatland Restoration Course Launched

Peatland restoration workers peat core sampling ©Dougie BarnettSNH
Alan Robertson

A new course in peatland restoration, the first of its kind in Scotland, is now open for booking. The course, supported with additional online learning, has been developed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in partnership with NatureScot Peatland ACTION and is aimed at graduates currently involved, or aspiring to work, in the planning of peatland restoration schemes which are a vital nature-based solution to the climate emergency.

The Peatland Assessment and Restoration course, which will run from SRUC’s Barony campus near Dumfries, will provide an overview of peatland ecology and hydrology and an understanding of the causes of peatland degradation. It will allow candidates to develop expertise in mapping and surveying peatland before designing effective interventions for the restoration of the site. Participants will cover all stages of planning, funding and delivering a restoration scheme during the short course.

The launch of the new short course aims to address the shortage of people with skills in peatland restoration, as the fast-growing sector requires an additional 1500 skilled people by 2025 to meet Scotland’s ambitious climate targets.

Restoring peatlands to good health is a crucial aspect of Scotland’s efforts to address the climate emergency. Peatlands are the largest natural store of carbon on land, but when the peat is exposed or its hydrology modified, it emits carbon in the form of greenhouse gases, thereby contributing to climate change. At present, degraded peatlands are responsible for 15% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, however, Scottish Government targets are to restore 250,000 hectares of degraded peatland by 2030. In 2020, Scottish Government set out a commitment to invest £250 million over 10 years to support the restoration.    

Peatland restoration helps to create conditions which turn a peatland that is emitting carbon to one which acts as a carbon sink. Peatland ACTION is a national programme to restore peatlands across Scotland. It is led by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership with NatureScot and their supporting partners, National Park Authorities, Scottish Water, and Forestry and Land Scotland.

Delivered as a mix of in-person and distance learning, a key feature of the course will be two weeks – 12-16 December 2022 and 20-24 March 2023 – on site, supported by online learning in between the college-based blocks.

To ensure the development of the skills required in this important sector, the course has been supported through the multi-partner Peatland Skills Plan, led by Peatland ACTION. In further support of this vital training, 50% of the course fees for participants will also be met by Peatland ACTION, with potential for additional assistance available, depending on circumstances.

NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION Workforce Planning and Development Manager, Becky Shaw, said: “Peatland restoration is a vitally important nature-based solution to climate change. This is a fast-growing sector, with huge potential for creating skilled green jobs, many of them in rural areas.  Meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious nature and climate targets will require a significant increase in people skilled in nature restoration – from gathering data to complex machine operations. The new Peatland Assessment and Restoration course at SRUC is a great first step in supporting the skills for planning peatland restoration and we’re delighted to see it up and running.”

SRUC Course Leader, James Banks, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to learn from experts and to get hands-on experience in addressing the global climate and biodiversity emergencies. We aim to enable course participants to make positive change happen.”

Potential candidates should contact James Banks: to find out more and register their interest.