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The Flow Country - conservation issues

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Introduction

The Flow Country Location North east Scotland, in the counties of Caithness and Sutherland. Approx 400,000 hectares Environment * It is a wild, bare landscape with many lakes and bogs. Blanket peat bogs to depths of about 10 metres are found in areas of high rainfall or on land, which has become waterlogged. Water in peatbogs is acidic. These areas become covered with plants and mosses - especially sphagnum moss. When they die the acidic water stops them from rotting down. New plants grow on remains of old ones. ...read more.

Middle

Red deer graze in the area. The Threat * Peatbogs are being dug up in other parts of Britain for use in gardening and horticulture; also drained for agriculture. Threat to the 'Flow Country' is from aforestation. * Fountain Forestry planted 25,000 ha. of coniferous trees, primarily monoculture of sirka, spruce and lodgepole pine. Able to be this because of modern technology, ie. Deep ploughs. Drains also installed, followed by heavy and repeated use of fertilisers. 'Natural' environment of peat bog therefore destroyed, along with it the feeding grounds of many birds and animals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Viewpoints against: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Scottish Wildlife Trust * One of the last remaining wilderness areas of Britain. A fragile, beautiful ecosystem. An internationally important wetland area. * Balance of plants, insects, animals and birds - unique and fragile. * In 1980s the Government met about 70% of costs to set up new plantations by forestry companies acting mainly on behalf of wealthy investors, few of whom see the land they buy, done as a form of tax relief. Decision Making * Highland Regional Council - final arbiters who have to weigh up both sides of the argument. Largely an issue of work and financial gain v environmental loss. Decision - Fountain Forestry could plant up to 50,000 hectares. * ...read more.

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