In early 2023, and after many years of preparation, the Flow Country blanket bogs will be “nominated” to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to become a World Heritage Site.
This means that if successful, the Flow Country would be considered globally as important as the Great Barrier Reef, the Serengeti, the Okavango Delta and over 160 other World Heritage Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. for their outstanding natural values of international importance.
Consultation on the proposed boundaries has been ongoing for three months and this week the draft management plan for the proposed site is being made available to the public.
It has been produced by a local partnership of organizations and individuals to explain to UNESCO how the World Heritage Site will be taken care of, should the region achieve this distinction of global significance.
The work of this plan builds on a ‘nomination dossier’ – extensive supplementary work that details why the Flow Country should be a World Heritage Site, and which will be submitted to UNESCO by the January deadline. .
In the foreword to the document, Partnership Chair Frances Gunn de Tongue says: “This draft management plan provides details of how we intend to care for the World Heritage site and the arrangements to be put in place to achieve this. .
“By ‘we’ I mean you and I, the people who own, live and work in the area, and the organizations that work with us to make it special. The plan was written with the aim of safeguarding this natural heritage exceptional. for future generations.”
She added: “There are complex and difficult issues in there, and we want to know what you think of what’s on offer, not only on the difficult issues, but also on the really positive benefits that could come from to become a World Heritage Site.”
“As Chair of the World Heritage Site Stakeholder Partnership, I can sincerely say that this draft plan, and the decisions made within it, have been made in collaboration, with the best interests of the blanket bog and of the Flow Country at large and its communities in spirit, and I encourage you to read and speak up. »
The online consultation will last eight weeks, after which all comments will be considered and changes will be made to the version which will be submitted with the application file to UNESCO in January 2023.
Dr Steven Andrews, Flow Country World Heritage Project Coordinator, said: “This is your chance to have your say, so thank you for taking the time to let us know what you think. World Heritage sites are important to the whole world, and as future local custodians, your input into your site is needed.
You can access the consultation on consult.highland.gov.uk/kse/event/36987 and it will remain open until September 12.
Funding for the project is provided by the Highland Council, NatureScot, RSPB and Wildland Limited. If successful, the Flow Country will become Scotland’s first World Heritage Site inscribed on purely natural criteria, and only the third (on natural criteria) in the UK. It would also be the first bog site inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The bogs of Caithness and Sutherland only became known as Flow Country when Nature Conservancy surveyors began surveying the area in the 1950s. “Flow” is a term used in the north to refer to any flat bog, deep and wet, and is derived from the Old Norse word floi, which in turn means wet or marshy.
The Flow Country has never had a defined boundary, it most loosely encompasses much of Caithness and North Sutherland, but if the World Heritage nomination is successful it would most certainly be put on the map globally .