As MAD Challenges gears up for a new partnership with Flows to the Future, we share what we leant at their fantastic new touring exhibition.

Besides preserving human bodies for thousands of years and puzzling scientists with ancient murder mysteries involving gruesome and ritualistic deaths, what have peat bogs ever done for us? Turns out, quite a lot! Which is lucky for us here in Scotland, as we have the largest expanse of blanket bog in the world up in Caithness and Sutherland!

So few people realise just how much we depend on bogs, which is why we were excited to be invited along to learn more at the Flows to the Future Touring Exhibition launch at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh last Wednesday.

Peat bogs provide water that is clean enough to drink, support some of the best salmon fishing in Scotland and – perhaps most importantly – ensure the quality of our whisky. When it rains they help prevent flooding, and when the sun shines they provide a steady release of water to our rivers – resources much appreciated by fishermen and kayakers alike. Hikers enjoy the wildspace they create and the diversity of wildlife they support – some of which is of international significance – and land owners are happy for the revenues that this wildlife brings, through deer stalking, grouse shooting and angling.

However, one of the greatest services that peat bogs provide isn’t from all of these direct benefits to the people, wildlife and the economy surrounding them; it’s from the huge amounts of carbon they store. Peat bogs provide a globally significant climate regulating service – if all of the carbon stored in Scotland’s peat bogs was emitted as carbon dioxide, it would amount to more than 100 times greater than Scotland’s annual emissions.

Protecting and restoring peatlands is an issue of national and global significance to ensure these important national resources are preserved. This is why the Peatlands Partnership, with the RSPB as its lead partner, have set out to deliver the impressive and ambitious 5 year project, Flows to the Future. This project aims to significantly increase the level of conservation management and promotional activities currently being undertaken in the Flow Country – the name given to the vast peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland.

As part of the local community engagement work that the RSPB are doing for Flows to the Future, we are thrilled to announce that we will be working with a summer school group in July to help them develop their very own MAD Challenge! We are particularly pleased with this partnership as the RSPB’s community engagement work complements MAD Challenges nicely in helping people connect to their local landscape.

This will also mark the launch of our MAD Communities pack – guidance for community groups and other organisations to develop and deliver local MAD Challenges.

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