We have a wealth of expertise and experience in UK peatland restoration science and management on which to draw.
Helped by the fact that UK's wetlands are protected under agencies such as Natura2000 and the UK Post 2010 Biodiversity Framework, funding has been provided for around 150 peat restoration and management projects in the UK so far. A sample of the initiatives involved are mentioned below:
At the RSPB's Forsinard Reserve inNorth East Scotland, EU LIFE and a partnership of NGOs, private individuals and statutory bodies are funding restoration work which has started with the blocking of drains and remove plantation trees. As the largest area of Atlantic Blanket bog in the world, the 400,000 hectare site is of international importance.
The Pumlumon Project in mid Wales, which covers 40,000 hectares of the Cambrian Mountain Range, is a flagship of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts' Living Landscape initiative. A range of innovative pilot projects were delivered between 2008 and 2010 including flood water management and habitat restoration.
The LIFE Active Blanket Bogs project, also in Wales has two sites: at the Berwyn and South Clywd Mountains SAC work has been carried out on the RSPB's Lake Vyrnwy Reserve and on three privately owned properties; the other project is on Forestry Commission managed land on the Migneint SAC where 10 drains have been blocked on privately owned land including one National Trust estate. Altogether the Project has benefitted nearly 6,000 hectares of blanket bog.
Since 2006 the Exmoor Mire Restoration Project has been re-wetting 300 hectares of blanket bogs on Exmoor; the work is continuing for a further five years on Exmoor and Dartmoor in a joint Mires-on-the-Moors project. The aim is to benefit water supply whilst improving biodiversity and protecting the carbon store.
Moors for the Future Partnership in the Peak District is a private-public upland partnership project. It has been operating for 10 years to restore moors which have sustained some of the worst erosion in the UK. This popular destination, with 10,000,000 day visits per annum, has lost important recreational and natural moorlandservices.
And there are many other similar projects, for instance, The North Pennines Partnership's Peatscapes Project. This part of the world contains nearly a third of England's blanket bogs and in 2008/09 over 270 kilometres of moorland drains were blocked helping restore 1266ha blanket bog at a cost of around £300,000.
CARBON STORE and Climate Change
THE PEATLAND CODE
The government is currently developing a ‘Peatland Carbon Code’, which will provide a quality standard for peatland restoration projects. Modelled on the Woodland Carbon Code (which has operated since 2011 and certifies carbon sequestration projects based on planting woodland) it will give an approved seal of ‘investability’ to peatland carbon capture projects.
The development of the first draft version of the Defra funded Code has been completed by a group of peat science and carbon experts, including Steve Prior of Forest Carbon Ltd- a 10% shareholder of PEATLANDS+. Ultimately, the Code would provide a mechanism whereby projects are individually certified by an independent auditor (as is the case with the Woodland Carbon Code).
The Peatland Carbon Code will lay out best-practice guidance and give all parties assurance that projects are being implemented to the highest professional standards. Further, the code will govern other aspects such as ecological impact and effects on biodiversity.
All our projects will be independently certified in accordance with the Peatland Carbon Code, making sure that they capture the carbon the say they will and deliver a positive and long-lasting impact. Projects will not proceed unless full life-cycle funding is in place.
What will be in the Code
The Code would cover standard carbon project principles:
- Project and risk management
- Monitoring and compliance
Other standards: VCS
The Verified Carbon Standard Emissions Reduction Project Certification Programme, founded by a group of business and environmental leaders, aims to develop better quality assurance in voluntary carbon markets.
ECOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
ECOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
What We Do
PEATLANDS+ was established to protect and restore UK peat habitats.
Peatlands are the greatest terrestrial carbon sink on the planet, storing more carbon than all the world’s forests combined. The UK’s peatlands alone contain an astonishing 100 times more carbon than the entire UK vegetation*
* Source: JNNC
With nearly 10% of the UK surface area covered by peatlands, significant carbon mitigating resources -an estimated 3.2 billion tonnes of CO2,* exits right here at home. This makes peatlands the single most important carbon store in the UK. Equally, we must not permit that carbon to escape back into the atmosphere, however, that is precisely why we need to restore our peatlands.
Here in the UK, large areas are in poor condition. Over 800,000 kilometres were drained over middle of last century to make way for agriculture, or exploited for fuel. What we have learned since, is that global warming is caused not only by the burning of fossil fuels but also by changes in land use.
* Source: IUCN
How It Works
Why it makes sense
The 'Plus' Part
The 'Plus' Part
The Local approach
The 'Plus' Part
Hydrological processes control the nature of peatlands and are in turn impacted by them. Peat’s existence depends upon water supply, retention and its characteristics depend upon the origin, volume and chemical quality. Its hydrology is impacted directly by climate, land use and inputs of both nutrients and pollutants.
Across the United Kingdom, peatlands act as a natural filter for the water we drink. Nearly 70% of all drinking water originates from surface water that is filtered by upland blanket or raised bogs. However, as peat dries, we risk the loss of one of nature’s most efficient sources for high water quality. Carbon sediments dissolve into the water, and the increase of carbon levels in the water – the visibly brown organic matter – can make the water undrinkable. The removal of these particles is extremely costly and a concern to companies and municipalities who rely on water as a pristine resource for their communities. So utilities and other companies using water have also been incentivised to contribute towards peat restoration. They are responsible for several current upland projects.
PEATLANDS+ voluntary carbon capture programmes also help with flood management. Where there is degradation with areas of bare desiccated peat, vegetation is lost, absorption is reduced and the amount and velocity of runoff from precipitation greatly increases. Secondary effects include erosion, high silt levels in watercourses that damage fisheries and dangers of sewerage overflow. By contrast, in summer, greater drying and fire risk, further loss of plant habitat and dependent species all contribute to a vicious circle of degraded ecosystems.
The 'Plus' Part
As outlined above, peatlands also help with flood management in a simple mechanical way. A healthy bog regulates the flow from snow-melt and torrential rain: reducing runoff, increasing absorption rates and building the storage capacity of a relatively high and stable water table, discouraging floods and impeding erosion along with silting of local streams and rivers that can damage fisheries.
By contrast, in summer, greater drying, further loss of plant habitat and dependent species and greater fire risk all contribute to a vicious circle of decline of the quality of the land and its ecosystems.
At present, current annual damage to properties caused by flooding exceeds £1.3 billion, a figure that is forecast to grow very substantially. Similarly, increasing amounts are being spent on fire fighting and prevention in the hot summers,with higher insurance premiums and reduction of amenity values.
The 'Plus' Part
WILDLIFE & HABITATS
Peatland habitats are recognised as being a conservation priority under UK and EU law with many sites classified under the EU Habitats and Species Directive.
The value of peatland here cannot be measured merely in species numbers. What you find are specialised types of fauna and flora that are interdependent and have adapted to the peatland’s waterlogged, acidic and nutrient-poor environment: sphagnum moss, heather, cotton grass, crowberry, bilberry… not to mention a range of fascinating insect-eating plants.
Iconic species for which peatland habitats (especially blanket bogs) are important include the golden plover and red-throated diver. There’s also the endangered hen harrier; merlin, the UK’s smallest bird of prey; the short-eared owl; red grouse, a multiplicity of waterfowl, waders and many more…. otters, water voles, eels, dragonflies, moths and so on.
Some of the fauna and flora are peculiar to peatland. This makes the preservation of our peatland habitats all the more important for the sake of national and global biodiversity.
The 'Plus' Part
Like other forms of wetland, peatland is of high importance in terms of biodiversity. Peatland habitat is recognised as being a conservation priority under UN conventions and under UK and EU law. Many peatland plants and creatures are classified as ‘rare’, ‘threatened’ or ‘declining’ in the UK, which is not surprising given that so many of our peatlands have been damaged or destroyed. This makes the restoration of our peatland habitats all the more important for the sake of national biodiversity. Fortunately, this is one of the ‘plus’ factors that flow from a Peatlands+ carbon sequestration project – once the habitat is restored, the biodiversity will return.
Over-grazing, drainage and burning are currently the most significant ongoing activities that threaten blanket bog, and are particularly hard on Sphagnum.
Like corals on a reef, these mosses are the cornerstone of the peatland ecosystem, Sphagnum, a ‘keystone’ species in peatland ecology of which there are 10 or so types, has outstanding capacity to suppress methane emissions and capture greenhouse gases; its intricate layers of filters purify water and act as a sponge to suppress local flooding.
Spaghnum provides shelter rather than food – but the organisms that cling to the moss provide food for insects – and invertebrates play a key role in fragmenting plant litter as part of the peat accumulation process. Insects are themselves food for birds and frogs, and birds nesting on the bogs attract otters (a protected species) looking for eggs and chicks.
In and amongst the moss hummocks, many other plants thrive: bilberry, crowberry, cotton grass, heathers, wild orchids and interesting carnivorousplants such as the butterwort, bladderwort and sundew.
As for wildlife, peatland plays a vital role towards the lower end of the food chain, being ideal habitat for invertebrates – beetles, moths, butterflies, spiders and dragon flies– as well as amphibians such as frogs and newts, all of which provide food for larger creatures. Peatland is therefore important not just for those creatures who live on or in it, but for others that come from elsewhere to feed and breed.
Bird species that frequent peatland include: golden plover, curlew, skylark, snipe, red grouse, short-eared owl, merlin (the UK’s smallest bird of prey) and many more. Mammals include weasels, stoats, shrews, water voles, mountain hares, even otters and (in the Highlands) the critically endangered Scottish wildcat.
In addition to its environmental and economic benefits, peatland restoration delivers a variety of knock-on social benefits that are harder to quantify but no less valuable. These can be felt far beyond the immediate area of a restoration project. For example, improved water quality means healthier local rivers, which means better fishing. Greater biodiversity entails a wildlife-rich landscape that attracts visitors and boosts eco-tourism, supporting local livelihoods. Then there’s the intrinsic value of a beautiful landscape, and the moral value of preserving wild expanses as a lasting legacy for future generations. And let’s not forget the role of a pristine bog in imparting that distinctive ‘peaty’ flavour to our favourite dram of malt whisky. It’s hard to put a price on these things, but we know that they matter. As Robert Kennedy put it: “GDP measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile.”
In years to come, the carbon captured by our projects will be significant, but it will represent just a part of the overall positive impact. From improved water quality and natural flood defence to halting the national decline in biodiversity, the ‘plus’ part of peatland restoration delivers benefits on many different levels.
The 'Plus' Part
PEATLANDS+ Carbon Finance
Peat Carbon Policy
Many jurisdictions exist to protect and highlight the value of peatlands. They are recognised as being a conservation priority under UK and EU law with many sites classified under the EU Habitats and Species Directives. Their highly valued bird assemblage is protected in many large 'Special Protection Areas'.
Globally, peatlands have been identified as a priority for action under agreements such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (with the emphasis on bird life).
On the 5th February 2013, UK Government Environment Ministers issued a statement of intent to conserve peatlands in the UK and British Overseas Territories. In their letter to the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, the four Ministers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland set out a framework for action aimed at protecting and enhancing the peatlands in recognition of their importance for biodiversity, water and climate change.(The IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world's oldest and largest global environmental organisation.) Their avowed challenge is to see that 1 million hectares of peatland is restored, or under conservation management, by 2020.
Other entities involved include Non Governmental Organisations such as The Heather Trust and the RSPB, as well as water companies who benefit at no added costfrom the economic value of peat’s ability to filter water.
A Peatland Carbon Code is currently being developed by the government in tandem with IUCN for UK peatland projects involving voluntary carbon funding.
PEATLANDS+ was established by The European Nature Trust, (TENT) to protect and restore UK peatlands. It seeks to match landholders wishing to regenerate damaged peatlands, with organisations willing to finance Voluntary Carbon Credits programmes for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions gained.
PEATLANDS+ enables businesses and Landholders the chance to take part in rebuilding the nation's store of natural capital.
Without it, no one will prosper for long. Our methods are tested, the science is proven and the outcomes are clear, for you and the environment.
Please call or write us today and find out what we can do for you.
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