Soil is hugely important in the battle against climate change, biodiversity loss and human well-being. Soil stores vast amounts of carbon, is the life force of most plants and supports people and wildlife. There are many different types of soils in Scotland, due to the different rocks underneath and processes (like weathering) above.
The most important soils is organic peat soil. This is one of Scotland’s biggest assets in the battle against climate change. They form over thousands of years and can be over 10 metres deep.
Peat soils cover more than 20% of Scotland and store around 1600 million tonnes of carbon. However, it is estimated that over 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are degraded.
Peatlands in good condition form peat, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing carbon in the soil. Unfortunately, degraded peatlands are thought to emit more CO2 than they absorb contributing to climate change.
Peatland restoration is essential to ensure Scotland reaches net-zero. They are also important for ensuring clean drinking water for people in Scotland as much of our water is filtered through peatland before reaching our taps.
Peatland habitats also support many important species, including ground nesting birds like curlew, golden plover and hen harriers, and amphibians and reptiles.