The John Muir Trust conservation charity, Langholm Initiative community trust, Southern Uplands Partnership and the state-backed South of Scotland Enterprise have teamed up and launched the search in a bid to find innovative technological solutions for tackling climate change through land use.
It’s hoped the move will help landowners better understand the potential for carbon storage on their land and so inform decisions about how it is used.
New technology could, for example, more accurately determine how to ensure the right native trees grow in the best places through either planting or natural regeneration, or inform decisions around actions such as peatland restoration or conservation grazing.
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They have put the challenge out to tender through the Scottish Government’s CivTech programme, which exists to support innovators and start-ups to help solve challenges faced by public sector organisations.
Successful candidates will be placed into an accelerator programme to explore promising ideas, which will be piloted at the 5,200-acre Tarras Valley Nature Reserve on Langholm Moor in Dumfries and Galloway.
The outcome of trials at the community-owned site could inform wider adoption of the technology across Scotland and beyond.
Langholm Initiative trustee Kevin Cumming said: “With the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve land owned by the community for the first time in its history, we want it to be an inspiring case study for tackling the nature and climate crises while supporting community regeneration.
“This exciting tech challenge could see the south of Scotland lead the way in pioneering innovative carbon capture breakthroughs.”
Mike Daniels, head of policy and land for the John Muir Trust, said: “Scotland has won praise worldwide for its ambitious climate change targets.
“In this year of COP26 it can once again show global leadership by bold action to bring about progressive land use for the benefit of climate, communities and nature.”
The vast nature recovery area at Langholm was created in March 2021, after an ambitious fundraising campaign led to the region’s largest ever community buyout – in a deal worth £3.8 million.
The reserve has a diverse range of habitats, including globally important peatlands and native woodlands, which each have different carbon capture and storage potential, biodiversity importance and economic opportunities.