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Restoring ecosystems

Restoring the quality or increasing the area of some habitats which past land uses have adversely affected is an important way of trying to recover ecosystem health. Large-scale habitat restoration at the landscape scale can be costly, but re-establishing ecological processes and ecosystem services by following an ecosystem approach can deliver benefits for people and wildlife that significantly outweigh the costs.

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity external site  has some examples of what needs to be done:

  • restore the hydrological integrity of degraded peatland
  • restore degraded coastal dune systems
  • restore native woodland, montane scrub and near-natural treelines where these have been suppressed or eliminated by grazing and burning
  • expand woodland within specific catchments
  • restore riparian and woodland flora where invasive species such as Rhododendron or Japanese knotweed are becoming dominant
  • establish saltmarsh in some areas where there is coastal inundation 

The Land Use Strategy external site for Scotland makes strong reference to the importance of large scale habitat restoration as a necessary part of responding to climate change.

Peatland Action is a project funded by Scottish Government and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage which aims to:

  • restore and manage peatlands to maintain carbon stores and encourage carbon sequestration (with 6500 ha peatland restoration by March 2015)
  • restore peatland ecosystem functions
  • enhance ecosystem resilience to climate change and
  • build peatland restoration capacity and understanding amongst land managers, contractors, advisors and the public.

This project contributes to the objectives of Scotland's National Peatland Plan, which is led by Scottish Natural Heritage, consulting with a wide group of stakeholders.

Many organisations are involved in landscape-scale habitat restoration, such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape external site  and Cumbernauld Living Landscape external site ; the RSPB's Futurescapes external site ; and the Scottish Forest Alliance Great Trossachs Forest Project external site .  More case studies and practical guidance on landscape-scale ecosystem restoration is available at Forestry Commission Scotland external site .

At national and local scales, many public bodies are involved in actions to restore ecosystem health. The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity external site  aims to work towards a shared agenda for action to restore ecosystem health at a catchment-scale across Scotland. Assessments of ecosystem health at a catchment level will be used to determine what needs to be done so that ecosystem restoration and management can be supported especially in catchments that have experienced the greatest degradation.

Last updated on Tuesday 21st October 2014 at 14:09 PM. Click here to comment on this page