Peat protection will be condition of Scottish farm support

VISITING Brussels for EU Green Week, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, announced that the protection of peatlands and wetlands will be a condition in Scotland’s future support model for farming and land management.

Peatlands cover around 2 million hectares, or one quarter, of Scotland and are of national and global significance. In good condition, they provide multiple benefits: storing carbon, supporting nature, and reducing flood risk.

Gougeon said “Our vision for Scottish agriculture, published last year, sets out how we will transform support for farming and food production as well as our aim to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“The new EU CAP recognises the importance of peatlands and wetlands as stores of soil carbon. Member States must now ensure appropriate protection of wetlands and peatlands from 2023, through the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition standards 2 (GAECs 2).

“This outcome is closely aligned to and supportive of our own vision, and there is considerable scope and rationale for Scotland to adopt a similar approach as part of our future support system. Caring for our peatlands that are in good condition, as well as restoring those that have been damaged, are both important elements of our response to the linked climate and nature crises.

“We have already committed £250 million to restoring 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands by 2030 – supporting good, green jobs in the rural economy, and playing a part in Scotland’s Just Transition to net zero by 2045.

“That’s why today I have agreed, in principle, that we will take forward the new Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAECs 2) covering the protection of wetlands and peatland, weaving the care of these important habitats right through our future rural support. More information on this outcome, as well as new conditions from 2025 will be published this summer in the updated Agricultural Reform Route Map for farmers, crofters and land managers.

“I want to ensure Scotland is at the heart of how EU is progressing its rural policies and legislation, and I will be hosting a round table in Brussels today to hear from key agencies and representatives, including the UN FAO to find out how we can work with them to ensure sustainable farming and food production in the future.”


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