A copy of the complete 250-page dossier and accompanying draft management plan, which makes the in-depth case for designating the 190,000-hectare site as the world’s first peatland World Heritage Site, has been hand-delivered by Dr Steven Andrews, the Flow Country Partnership’s project co-ordinator.
The milestone triggers the next step in the bid process, which will see inspection visits to the region by Unesco officials to decide whether to award the accolade of World Heritage Site status.
If successful, the status will guarantee the continued protection and conservation of a unique landscape.
The Flow Country, a vast area of blanket bog that spreads across 190,000 hectares of Caithness and Sutherland in Scotland’s far north, is estimated to store some 400 million tonnes of carbon – more than double the amount stored in all of Britain’s woodlands – and supports a vast range of wildlife.
The document was received at Parliament by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, UK minister for arts and heritage at the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, and then submitted formally to Unesco by Laura Davies, the UK’s ambassador to the Paris-based United Nations body.
Dr Andrews, who co-ordinated the preparation of the dossier for the Flow Country Partnership, said: “A vast amount of work has gone into getting the nomination dossier prepared for delivery to Unesco in Paris and we are hugely grateful to both the UK Government and also the Scottish Government for the support they have provided in helping us reach this important milestone.
“We look forward to continuing to work with them, as well as with the communities across the Flow Country, to bring the bid home successfully in the next 18 months.”
Lord Parkinson said: "Scotland's stunning and ancient Flow Country landscape offers breath-taking views and is hugely important for protecting against climate change.
"It would be a worthy recipient of Unesco World Heritage Site status and the UK Government is supporting the push for this international recognition to help ensure that the area is preserved for future generations."
To support the bid, a team of independent scientific experts has just completed a series of assessments to determine how the habitat might respond to climate change impacts over the next three decades.
Scotland’s environment and land reform minister Mairi McAllan said: “Scotland’s peatlands are iconic and an integral part of Scotland’s cultural and natural heritage. In good condition, they also play a vital part in our response to the climate and nature emergencies, and our ambitious targets to be net zero by 2045.
"Peatlands do all of this whilst reducing the risk of flooding and providing a natural filter to improve drinking water quality. That’s why the Scottish Government is so passionate about peat and are investing £250 million to restore 250,000 hectares of peatlands over a ten-year period to 2030.
“The Flow Country achieving Unesco World Heritage Site status would help give us an international platform to promote the natural beauty of Scotland’s landscape – and the importance of restoring and protecting it. And I wish the best of luck to all working on this important bid.”