Peatland is bought as bird reserve

THE ROYAL Society for the Protection of Birds has become the first conservation group to buy land in Scotland's Flow Country, the region where environmental battles raged in the 1980s due to the exploitation of tax loopholes in commercial forestry, writes James Cusick.

Two square miles of the peatland area of Caithness and East Sutherland have been bought for pounds 15,000. Although the reserve is small, the RSPB intends it to become a 'showpiece' reserve that will protect the breeding ground of the black-throated diver, arctic skua, merlin, greenshank, dunlin and golden plover.

The RSPB believes the reserve, called Carn nam Muc, will also highlight the misuse of the peat land areas in the 1980s. Forests planted to take advantage of tax loopholes, since closed, are now decaying in the acidic soil.

David Mitchell, of the RSPB, said: 'Carn nam Muc, in the heart of the Flow Country, shows what the entire area once looked like before forestry destroyed natural drainage systems that will take generations to recover.'

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