State of the Art and Next Steps Guide Published to Guide Vital Action on Peatlands for World Peatlands Day
Despite being carbon storage powerhouses, biodiversity champions, and important for climate change adaptation and mitigation, peatlands are in trouble. Across Europe they have been drained and degraded. These damaged sites become significant sources of carbon emissions. Although only 15% of the world’s peatlands have been degraded, this 0.4% of the world’s surface area contributes to more than 5% of CO2 emissions. As we enter the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, it is crucial that we ensure peatlands are protected, restored, and sustainably managed now and for our future.
Catching up on the COP26 Countdown
The Global Peat Press Project (GP3) unites international peatland partners, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Peatland Initiative (GPI), to pledge their collective commitment to tackling climate change, protecting nature and securing the health of our planet.
The GP3 is a press and social media collaboration to share experiences and celebrate the successes of ongoing work. The relay began in the UK, as host of the upcoming COP26, with the North Pennines AONB, where tremendous efforts to restore peatlands has been ongoing for the last 15 years. Next, the Care-Peat project outlined their ambitions to “Eat, sleep, re-peat, repeat” (found here) with its leaders based in Belgium. Now, taking the relay baton from NUI Galway, where they are supporting the restoration of over 50 thousand hectares of Irish peatlands, saving millions of tonnes of CO2 (found here), this week celebrates the joint efforts of five EU funded transnational projects – Carbon Connects, Care-Peat, DESIRE, LIFE Peat Restore, and CANAPE – and the release of the Peatlands Across Europe: Innovation and Inspiration guide, including a documentation of pilot restoration sites. Authored by Bax & Company’s Amber De La Haye, Cisca Devereux and Sebastiaan van Herk, the document aims to pave the way for future action on peatlands.
Peatlands Across Europe: Innovation & Inspiration
The Peatlands Across Europe: Innovation & Inspiration Guide is a valuable step towards sustainably managed peatlands. It captures important recommendations, shares the cutting-edge experiences of peatland restoration pioneers, and identifies gaps, priorities and lessons from across Europe that can be taken up by peatland practitioners around the globe.
Peatlands are multifaceted, with the work required to restore and safeguard these valuable ecosystems crossing departments, regions and industries. As such, the guide contains practical guidance for local governments ready to act. It also features high level policy recommendations to inform environmental groups and national decision makers able to make the interventions needed to safeguard peatlands for the future. This brief is also for peatland practitioners, managers and experts. As the need to protect peatlands gains traction, and the EU enters a new era of funding, now is a critical moment to codify existing learnings and identify knowledge gaps for future research to address. To prevent new projects from reinventing the wheel, the booklet outlines the main findings of EU peatland projects from 2016 to 2021, with links to more detailed information. The combination of learnings, recommendations and practical advice will help guide the next stage of peatland projects, policy and research.
Looking to a Net-Zero Future
To have a significant impact, future peatland projects need to build on what has come before and avoid reinventing the wheel. Including state of the art practical solutions to peatland restoration, business models, GHG assessment techniques, and outlining the policy actions essential for progress, the guide is a must read for decision makers and peatland managers looking to scale up action on peatlands.
Peatland restoration is an important component of the world’s journey to net-zero carbon emissions. When healthy, peatlands are incredible carbon stores and potential carbon sinks – yet, if allowed to degrade, they threaten biodiversity, release pollutants into the environment and thwart climate change mitigation and adaptation goals everywhere. The five projects involved in the booklet are contributing to these efforts with experimental pilot sites.
We Can Do It – But Only by Working Together
Dianna Kopansky from the United Nations Environment Programme’s GPI is enthusiastic about efforts to save peatlands: “We can do it, but only by working together – collaboration is the key – a lesson beautifully captured in this dynamic collection of learnings, reflections, recommendations and valuable nudges that mean we do not need to start from scratch. We don’t have time for that! Nature needs time to heal, and the same is true for peatlands, so let’s get to work – share, join up, inspire and exchange for the benefit of all.” Similarly to the booklet, the GP3 brings together many peatland experts and enthusiasts in a coordinated approach as we head to UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow in November and into the future.