Did you know that despite covering just 3% of the world’s surface, peatlands store 30% of the world’s carbon? Not only are peatlands home to a whole host of rare and unusual wildlife, in the UK they store more carbon than all of its forests combined!
The UK has around 13% of the world’s peatlands and the vast majority of these are in Scotland. Approximately 70% of peatlands in Scotland have become degraded due to historic land use, and whilst healthy peatlands store carbon, degraded peatlands can become a source of greenhouse gas emissions. It is crucial that peatlands are restored to good condition, to play their vital role in turning around the climate crisis.
Peat is also really important to the craft of whisky-making, bringing the smoky and earthy flavours that Johnnie Walker whisky is known and loved for all around the world. Used in small, considered volumes during whisky production, we recognise the role we must play to restore the healthy balance of peatlands to provide long-lasting benefits for people, wildlife and the climate.
Johnnie Walker is renowned the world over for whiskies full of flavour and complexity. An important flavour component comes from the aroma produced by using peat; the amounts we use are small, but the flavour impacts are great. And so, peat and peatland restoration are important elements in our dedication to craft great flavoursome whiskies.
Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge, OBE.
The Royal Society for the Protections of Birds (Scotland) is carrying out amazing work to restore peatland and we’re proud to support their efforts as we keep walking towards a brighter tomorrow. This includes installing features such as coir logs (fibre logs used to stabilise banks) and dams in order to slow the speed of water flow and stimulate the development of vegetation in key areas, enabling the habitat to regenerate and the peat to begin rebuilding.
In terms of biodiversity, bird species such as golden plover and dunlin depend on peatland habitats for survival while birds of prey such as hen harrier (the UK’s most threatened bird of prey), short-eared owls and the majestic golden eagle use healthy peatland as their hunting grounds. The unique soil quality means specialist plant species that have evolved over thousands of years thrive on peatland, such as the sundew plant – one of the UK’s few indigenous carnivorous plants. Sundews have evolved to secrete a sticky sugary liquid that attracts and traps insects to supplement their diet! All of these species will benefit from the work that Johnnie Walker is supporting RSPB Scotland carry out.
Planning and preparation for this regeneration project started in Spring 2021 and work will begin on the ground in late summer. We’ll keep you updated with progress as we go. Keep Walking.