NEW plans to restore Scotland's moors, mires and bogs, protect rare wildlife and cut carbon emissions by 200 million tonnes is to be launched.

The Peatland Code targets the restoration of one million hectares of peatlands over the next five years and these restored sites alone could save 220 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.

UK peatlands, which are wetlands made up of decomposed plants, currently lock away more than three billion tonnes of carbon, are the habitat of rare wildlife and act as a natural filter to drinking water. But over 80 per cent have been damaged.

The Code is based on research by academics at Birmingham City University and the University of Leeds which revealed that sustainable business investment could reverse the degradation of peatlands, many of which are found in Scotland.

It will be unveiled at the World Forum for Natural Capital in Edinburgh on Monday following a successful two year trial, which has seen businesses fund peatland restoration projects in southwest England, the Lake District and Wales.

Professor Mark Reed, who led research at Birmingham City University, said: “The call of a curlew or cotton grass quivering in the wind are sights many of us may associate with our often solitary, yet beautiful moorland landscape.

“But we remain blissfully unaware or unappreciative of the many benefits we derive from these unique peatland habitats.”

Professor Joseph Holden, who led research at the University of Leeds, said: “The peatlands of the UK are our own version of the Amazon rainforest. They need to be protected. They are home to some of our rare and endangered wildlife.

“They also act as a huge store of carbon, with perhaps as much as 3.2 billion tonnes, greater than the amount of carbon soaked up every year by all of the world’s oceans combined.

“The UK’s peatlands are also important source areas for the provision of clean drinking water while protection of many of our peatlands may reduce flood risk."

Peatlands cover around 10 per cent of the UK and store more than 20 times the amount of carbon as all the country’s forests.