Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Conservationists call for urgent restoration of UK peatlands

Severin Carrell in the Guardian (UK): Conservationists have called for urgent action to restore vast areas of peatland across the UK after an inquiry warned that their fate will have severe implications for the climate. The report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has estimated that the UK's peatlands and peatbogs lock in about 3bn tonnes of CO2, and are a far more significant carbon store than the country's forests. But they are being damaged so seriously that they are putting the UK's climate targets at risk.

The new study, by an IUCN commission of inquiry, has found that losing only 5% of the 2.7m hectares of peatland in Britain, which cover large areas of the Highlands, the Hebrides, the Peak District, the Pennines, Northern Ireland and upland Wales, would be equal to the UK's entire annual carbon emissions. Surveys have already confirmed that peatlands are already releasing significant levels of CO2, with 80% of the UK's peatlands and peatbogs damaged by overgrazing, burning, drainage systems and horticultural extraction.

The IUCN described peatlands as the "Cinderella habitat: overlooked and undervalued".

The rate of damage is also putting the UK's biodiversity obligations under EU law at risk: the European commission has imposed much stricter targets on the UK to repair them by 2020. Clifton Bain, director of the IUCN UK's peatlands programme, told the Guardian: "There's real pressure to get this delivered."...

An unnamed lochan south of Loch Akran in the UK, shot by david glass, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: