Peatland protection code could cut UK emissions by 200 million tonnes
A new Government-backed code to protect and restore the UK's peatlands could reportedly cut national CO2 emissions by 200 million tonnes by 2050.
The new Peatland Code will be unveiled at the World Forum for Natural Capital in Edinburgh today (23 November) following a successful two-year trial which has seen businesses fund peatland restoration projects in South West England, the Lake District and Wales.
The Peatland Code sets out key environmental guidelines and has been drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) UK Peatland Programme. It targets the restoration of one million hectares of peatlands over the next five years, which could save 220 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
It also offers detailed carbon reduction statistics for organisations investing in pre-approved projects so they know the real-world environmental benefits of their funding.
The Code has been specifically designed to encourage businesses to fund the restoration of peatlands.
The UK's Amazon
Professor Joseph Holden, who led research for the new Code 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% of the UK and store more than 20 times the amount of carbon as all the country’s forests.
Natural capital gains
Recent research from consultancy firm Aecom suggested that UK businesses and landowners could be missing out on a £7bn windfall by ignoring the natural capital potential of their land.
Potential business benefits include restoring wetland habitats to improve water quality and reduce flood risk, creating woodlands to improve air quality and provide recreation opportunities, and managing grassland habitats so that grazing regimes benefit both farmers and biodiversity.