World Heritage status would be 'accolade' for Flow Country
Consultation launched over potential status for 'best peatland of its type in the world'.
By Iain Ramage
A plan to give World Heritage Site status to the ecologically sensitive Flow Country has gone to consultation.
The vast natural carbon store comprising wild peatland, spanning much of Sutherland and Caithness, is widely recognised as being the best of its type in the world.
Highland councillors hope people in the area till attend drop-in events to learn more about the heritage site intentions.
The first of 13 such events is on Tuesday, May 14 in Wick.
Councillor Matthew Reiss, chairman of the council's Caithness committee, said: "The increasing profile and importance of the unique Flow Country is a good news story for Caithness and Sutherland.
"It's accessible from the NorthCoast500, which is bringing more tourists and making more people aware of its unique importance."
The Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe and covers about 200,000 hectares.
A recent international study described this area as being "the best peatland of its type in the world".
The Flow Country also importantly stores about 400m tonnes of carbon in the peat, which is almost three times the amount of carbon in all of Britain's woodlands.
The "ecosystem services" provided are increasingly being recognised as major contributions to the Scottish economy.
The Flow Country has been on the UK's tentative list for potential UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1999. A working group was established by the Peatlands Partnership in 2017 to help progress things.
Joe Perry, the Peatland Partnership's World Heritage Site's project coordinator, said: "A World Heritage Site would not only be an enormous accolade for the area and the many organisations, land managers, crofters and farmers who have maintained this land for generations, but it could also bring many positive development opportunities and undoubtedly some challenges too."