Capturing Carbon: harnessing the power of natural regeneration
In our continual effort to reduce carbon emissions across Rothiemurchus estate, we are using some innovative long-term approaches to capturing carbon.
Woodland renewal and expansion
We recently assigned 170 hectares (equivalent to 317 football pitches) for woodland creation, using natural methods to expand the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. The project, regulated by the Woodland Carbon Code, will re-create woodland through natural regeneration of heather moorland that was used for decades to graze cattle. With no soil disturbance from ploughing or artificial cultivation, CO2 emissions are initially reduced by over 500 tonnes.
But as the trees mature over the next 100 years, the natural regeneration of the area should capture almost 17,500 tonnes of carbon. Native species like Scots Pine, Downy Birch, Juniper and Eared Willow should re-emerge. Indigenous species including Capercaillie, Red Squirrel, Black Grouse and Scottish Crossbills should also thrive. By expanding the UK’s largest remnant of Caledonian Pine Forest, these species will have a greater chance of survival in a large area of continuous forest.
Peat: An ancient carbon store
Rothiemurchus includes 50 square kms of sub-arctic montane zone. Around 400 hectares of this is peatland – including areas of intense erosion and scattered erosion. Last year, Biodiversity Manager Peter Ferguson and his team restored a 3-hectare trial plot of eroded peatland. Two diggers worked in tandem on peat hag sculpting, where areas of non-eroded turf are placed on areas of bare peat. These turfs eventually amalgamate, storing carbon in the bogs. The process also creates water pools, forming wet areas where sphagnum mosses and bog cotton grasses can recolonise.
Peter is delighted with the progress of the plots and Rothiemurchus is planning the next phase of this peatland restoration work for this year, alongside the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Nature.Scot.