Protection of Peatlands and Wetlands – a potential new GAEC measure for Scotland: An output to RESAS as part of commissioned project on Economic Advice & Related Services to Support Development of a New Rural Support Scheme for Scotland Output Ref: RESAS/005/21 – W10

SG Thomson*, Keith B. Matthews, Douglas Wardell-Johnson, Dave Miller, Zisis Gagkas, Andrew P Moxey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefCommissioned report

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Abstract

The Scottish Government are committed to enhanced conditionality for future agricultural support. As part of the transition to future agricultural support schemes there is an opportunity to help transition towards future schemes by introducing additional conditions (cross compliance) through existing support schemes in 2025. The protection and enhancement of Scottish wetlands and peatlands offers potentially significant emission reductions and biodiversity improvements. The focus on peatland and wetland emissions has increased since national inventory methodology changes to the LULUCF to account for wetlands and peatlands moved LULUCF from a net sink of 5.4Mt CO2e to a net source of 2.7MtCO2e. A combination of actions across the proposed 4-Tier policy model could be used to seek protection and enhancement of peatlands, possibly in terms of Bronze/ Silver/Gold standards as suggested by ARE officials to ARIOB. In particular, Tier 1 cross compliance and Tier 2 conditionalities offer opportunities to enrol a high proportion of relevant land. This reflects the fact that wetlands and peatlands are widely distributed across Scotland, albeit particularly prevalent in the existing Region 3 of the Basic Payment Scheme.
Tier 1 conditionality could take the form of restrictions on cultivation, drainage installation, stocking density, tree planting, conversion of permanent pasture on peatland to cropland, etc could be included. This would mirror inclusion of ‘Protection of wetlands and peatland’ within the new Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC2) applied under the Common Agricultural Policy, thereby helping to maintain alignment with EU regulations. Tier 2 enhanced conditionality could then include blocking of hill drains, reduced stocking density, moorland management plans, restrictions on cultivations on peatlands used for cropping. Tiers 3 and 4 could then include support for more capital-intensive restoration actions (e.g., revegetating bare peat) and more demanding on-going management (e.g., intermittent scrub clearance, more radical stock reductions). In common with other specific policy objectives, the boundaries between different Tiers are not necessarily fixed, meaning that particular measures may switch Tiers over time. Consideration of effects and potential consequences of any Tier 1 cross compliance or Tier 2 conditionality on common grazing peatland / wetlands would need careful consideration, since individual crofters may not have the capacity or abilities to manage common grazing peatland areas.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusFirst published - 29 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • peatland restoration
  • peatland extent
  • wetlands
  • GAEC2
  • Good Agricultural & Environmental Condition
  • Agricultural support
  • Scotland
  • Cross Compliance
  • Tiered support
  • restrictions
  • coherent actions on peatland

Rural Policy Centre Themes

  • Environment and climate
  • Food, health and wellbeing
  • Land use and land reform
  • Rural economies and communities

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