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Life Peatlands Project


The Peatlands – A Brighter Future
The Pentland Hotel, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland
4th – 5th October, 2006

The LIFE Peatlands Project ( www.lifepeatlandsproject.com  ) has been operating in Caithness and Sutherland for over 10 years through two phases (1994-98 and 2001-06) of EU LIFE grant focussing on the restoration and conservation of the world important 'Flow Country' peatlands. Led by RSPB Scotland in partnership with SNH, Forestry Commission Scotland, CASE and Plantlife International, significant achievements have been made not only in the restoration of areas of damaged peatland, but also in raising awareness and developing an agreed strategic plan for the future of the peatland area. Much work has also been done in trying to promote the area as a valuable visitor resource demonstrating, of course, that this unique landscape has an economic value if managed sustainably.

Although the conference marks the end of over 10 years of LIFE funded conservation initiatives, it also marks the beginning of a new era for the Peatlands. 'The Peatlands of Caithness & Sutherland MANAGEMENT STRATEGY 2005 - 2015' was formally launched by Deputy Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Rhona Brankin in August 2005 and the conference will also provide a platform for the launch of 'The Peatlands Partnership' - a post-LIFE Project group involving interested parties and stakeholders - which will ultimately be responsible for the delivery of the Strategy.

The conference will be over 2 days with Day 1 (Wednesday 4th October) dedicated to talks, and Day 2 to optional field visits. There will be a conference dinner on the Wednesday evening and there will also be session dedicated to viewing delegates poster / displays.

We see this event as an excellent opportunity to disseminate our achievements over the last decade as well as provide a forum to discuss the future management of this unique part of the world.

If you would like to attend the event (or any part of it), please e mail neil.wilkie@rspb.org.uk  or telephone Eilidh Smith at 01463 715000

Wednesday 4th October
10.00-10.30: Registration

10.30-10.40: Opening address and conference overview – Rhona Brankin MSP,
Deputy Environment Minister [tbc]

10.40-11.55: Session 1 – The World Class Peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland
(Chair: Susan Davies, Scottish Natural Heritage)
• Brief welcome and domestics from Chair
• The Peatlands: an international perspective – Richard Lindsay (Univ East London)
• A decade of LIFE funding – Neil Wilkie (LIFE Peatlands Project)
• Peatlands Management Strategy – Caroline Eccles (SNH)

11.55-14.45: Session 2 – The Future of the Peatlands
(Chair: George Campbell, RSPB [tbc])
• Forest re-structuring and habitat networks – Bob Dunsmore (FCS)
• Carbon: the role of peatlands in combating climate change – Clifton Bain (RSPB)

12.45-13.45: Lunch
• Tourism in the Peatlands – Professor John Lennon, (The Moffat Centre)
• The Flows: the case for World Heritage – Michael Scott (Plantlife International)

14.45-17.00: Session 3 – Communities and Partnerships
(Chair: Cllr David Flear, The Highland Council)
• North Sutherland Community Forest Trust – Sandy Murray (NSCFT)
• Sunart Oakwood Initiative – Brian Eardley (SNH)
• The Peatlands Partnership: the way forward – Pete Mayhew (RSPB)
• Group discussion on workings of Peatlands Partnership

18.00: Poster presentation displays with refreshments

19.30: Conference dinner

Thursday 5th October
09.30-10.30: Travel to Forsinard Flows Reserve, Sutherland

10.30-10.45: Introduction & welcome to Forsinard Flows Reserve - Norrie Russell

10.45-15.00: Field trips (packed lunch included)
• Visitor management & interpretation
• Restoring damaged peatland
• Peatland management and land use

15.00-16.00: Feedback and close

Conference Co-ordinator:
Neil Wilkie
LIFE Peatlands Project
Tel: +353 (0) 7191 71138
Email: neil.wilkie@rspb.org.uk

Local Organiser:
Eilidh Smith
RSPB Scotland
Tel: +44 (0) 1463 228810
Email: eilidh.smith@rspb.org

The LIFE Peatlands Project
“Restoring Active Blanket Bog of European Importance in North Scotland”