Covering nearly 3 percent of the Earth’s land surface, peatlands are wetland ecosystems where waterlogged conditions mean that plant material cannot fully decompose, and instead becomes peat. That process, which can take thousands of years, actually stores the carbon the plants absorbed while alive, making peatlands carbon rich ecosystems that sequesters more carbon than any other type of terrestrial ecosystem.
Ten percent of the UK’s land is covered by peatlands, creating a significant opportunity to fight against climate change. But in order to capitalise on this precious natural resource, it’s critical to act fast, because when peatlands are drained, the stored carbon oxidises to CO2. Once released, that CO2 is not only harmful for the atmosphere, but results in the drying out of the ecosystem, making it all the more difficult to restore these crucial carbon sinks.
“Peatlands are historically undervalued and neglected,” says Palladium Director of Nature-Based Solutions Andrew Sutherland.
Beginning this week, funding will be awarded for peatland restoration design and planning projects in the UK’s Broads and North York Moors National Parks.
The funding, awarded through the Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme Discovery Grant, will support two pilots that will survey the condition and depth of peat across huge areas of both parks and explore the feasibility of harnessing private finance to deliver peatland restoration.
Revere, a nature restoration facility delivered through a partnership between Palladium and UK National Parks, is supporting the development of business cases for peatland restoration and is a core member of the pilot partnerships in each park.
“Only now are we waking up to the huge value that healthy peatlands offer us in terms of climate change mitigation and catchment services,” notes Sutherland.
Partnering to Restore the Broads National Park’s Vast Peatlands
In Broads National Park, a cross-sector partnership of charities, farmers, land managers, and Palladium will work together across 13 sites to find ways to stop the loss of carbon and restore wetland so that it captures more carbon.
The first phase of the project will work on feasibility studies and a new business case for private-finance investment for carbon and water storage.
“In the wake of the climate conference in Glasgow, this is a really important announcement for the Broads,” notes Broads Authority, Chief Executive John Packman.
While the Broads National Park stores vast amounts of carbon, safely locked up in its wet fen and reedbeds, nearly a quarter of its deep peat soils are drained for agriculture, which releases greenhouse gases. In fact, around one million tonnes of carbon have been lost from the Broads in the past 40 years.
“If we want to protect and enhance the enormous carbon store in the peat, then we need to work in partnership at a landscape scale, which is what this funding will allow,” adds Packman.
Scaling Peatland Restoration in the North York Moors National Park
In North York Moors National Park, the Moor to Restore partnership led by the National Park Authority with Palladium brings together public and private stakeholders, landowners, and land managers to identify opportunities to restore peatland across the park. The partnership will assess the extent and condition of peatland, develop restoration plans and identify funding options to meet the Park’s ambition to restore all 4,500 hectares of degraded blanket bog and peat habitats by 2032.
“By working with our communities and finding innovative ways of funding this important work, we can support land managers to deliver sustainable management practices and together we can achieve solutions that benefit nature and people,” says North York Moors Director of Conservation Dr Briony Fox.
Significant peat deposits have been lost from the North York Moors over the last 200 years from a combination of factors including small scale peat extraction for fuel, agricultural improvement, drainage, and wildfires. As a result, only around 10 percent of the moorland area now supports deep peat with the rest consisting of extensive areas of shallow peat and mineral soils with peaty pockets.
“Restoring peatlands will make a huge contribution to enhancing resilience to climate change and to supporting nature recovery,” adds Fox.
Putting a clear value on the restoration of peatlands is a critical and lucrative nature-based solution in the fight against climate change. And in the UK where peatlands are abundant, projects such as these are a massive opportunity to support and bolster ‘the UK’s Amazon Rainforest’ on the journey to net zero.
For more information, visit Revere or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.