To extend the grazing range of sheep, cattle, and even deer, but also to improve agricultural output (or yield) throughout Scotland, thousands of miles of drainage was built into the Lowlands’ and Highlands’ landscape during the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. Manually at first, but more advanced later on with mechanically built underground drainage systems, vast areas of peatland and bogs were drained. Unknown at the time, as CO2 emissions of course weren’t considered, it is estimated that over 8 million tons of CO2 was released into the atmosphere because of this in Scotland alone. Also, the loss of biodiversity due to these nationwide, and government funded drainage activities, was profound.
In a groundbreaking effort, Alladale launched a peatland restoration project in the winter of 2012, in close collaboration with the company ICAP. Under the banner of Peatland Plus an impressive area of 224 hectares at Alladale was allocated to see all drainage blocked. The project finished in March 2013, with a total of 4,000 small dams and blockages having been built into the designated site.