Guidance for Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment in Scotland

Bruce Mann
Cover of Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment in Scotland publication

We are delighted to announce the publication of the final version of the ALGAO Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment Guidance Note. Written by Bruce Mann for ALGAO Scotland, it has undergone several rounds of consultation with colleagues across the UK.

Peatlands are of enhanced historic environment significance because of the nature of the archaeological resource they may contain and owing to the unique preservation qualities of the peat. For millennia peatland areas have been exploited by humans for settlement, agriculture, industry, as route-ways and communication networks, and as “special” places for interring the dead and other ritual activities. This range of activity, and the demonstration of such activity over time, is often more complete than in other areas, as the peatlands have not been as developed or intensively exploited during later periods of history. Preservation of the evidence of human activity is also enhanced by the waterlogged conditions of peat, resulting in exceptional organic remains. In addition, peatlands also provide an invaluable and irreplaceable record of past human activity, vegetation, climate, and landscape change in the form of a palaeoenvironmental record or archive.

The intention of this Guidance Note is to set out an informed procedure to secure the protection of heritage and historic environment features within peatland restoration projects across Scotland. By doing so it seeks to ensure that applications submitted to Local Authorities meet the required standards under Permitted Development Rights in relation to archaeology and the historic environment, and for the process of planning authority approval in relation to these matters to be as streamlined as possible. It must be noted that there will also be aspects other than the historic environment which will need to be addressed as part of a Prior Notification application.


We welcome the publication in Scotland of ALGAO’s Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment Guidance. This landmark guidance is the product of collaborate partnership working bringing together Local Authorities and leading partners from across both the natural and historic environment sectors to ensure best practice in preserving our nationally important peatlands in the face of the challenges presented by Climate Change. Who hope that this can be an example for the development of best practice and collaboration across the UK.
John Lawson, ALGAO: UK Chair

The newly ratified Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment Guidance from ALGAO marks a crucial step in recognising and mitigating against the possible impacts of peatland restoration on heritage assets. Importantly, the guidance document also recognises the critical importance of peatland restoration, not only in the struggle against human induced climate change and biodiversity loss, but also in safeguarding heritage assets put at risk by peatland deflation and erosion. Finally, the work represents a triumph of stakeholder engagement, with broad-reaching consultation responses reflecting the views and passion of all involved.
Dr Tom Gardner, Historic Environment Scotland

NatureScot welcomes this guidance from the ALGAO which has been developed in partnership with the full range of Peatland Action delivery partners across Scotland. Peatland restoration presents a great opportunity to protect and preserve Scotland’s wonderful archaeology. We look forward to adopting this guidance to help us deliver benefits for the climate, wildlife and our historic environment.
Barry Dunne, NatureScot


Guidance for Peatland Restoration and the Historic Environment in Scotland
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