Home Media News Archive 2012 Caithness conference discusses carbon, wildlife and water in the flows

Caithness conference discusses carbon, wildlife and water in the flows

Issued 23 October 2012
Caithness conference discusses carbon, wildlife and water in the flows

Dr. Roxane Andersen from the Environmental Research Institute, taking a look in one of the pools found at the end of the Dubh Lochan trail in the Forsinard Reserve. Please credit: Line Rochefort.


A ground-breaking conference dedicated to research on the internationally important peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland is being held from 23 to 25 October. Researchers, students and stakeholders from universities, institutes and organisations across the country will meet in Thurso to share their knowledge on a wide range of topics relating to the peatlands of the Flow Country.

The conference will highlight the latest research findings covering important functions of the peatlands, such as their role in regulating carbon and freshwater, and their value to specialised bog plants, birds and other wildlife. A priority will be to identify key areas of research for the future that promotes high quality science relevant to all of society.

The programme starts with a visit to the RSPB Forsinard Flows reserve to see peatland restoration taking place. In the evening, participants will be welcomed to the new Centre for Energy and the Environment at North Highland College UHI, a facility opened last month by First Minister Alex Salmond. The main conference session will be held in the newly re-opened Thurso Cinema over the following two days. Catering will be provided by North Highland College UHI hospitality students showcasing local produce.

The conference is co-organised by North Highland College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), the RSPB and the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and is supported by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Speaking about the Flows, Forsinard Flow Reserve manager Norrie Russell, said: “There is now widespread recognition in the UK and Scottish Government of the importance of our blanket bogs and deep peat soils as a massive carbon store which could have major consequences for climate change. The Flows contain the single largest concentration of carbon anywhere on land in the UK, as well as having internationally important habitat and wildlife living across it and in the rivers that flow from it. With pressure mounting to combat climate change, the need to have good research to inform integrated land management practice will be crucial.

Professor Stuart Gibb, director of the ERI, said: “The peatlands in the North of Scotland are globally important and have vast environmental, conservation and economic value. However, we lack an integrated, holistic understanding of peatland function. At this unique conference we will launch our vision for a Peatland Research Hub. This will seek to establish the ‘Flow Country’ as a UK focal point of peatland science addressing contemporary environmental and societal issues such as climate change, biodiversity, resource management and sustainability.”

For more information, contact Dr. Roxane Andersen on roxane.andersen@uhi.ac.uk

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