Designing a Programme to Address Evidence Gaps in Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Flux from UK Peatlands
What is the programme about?
Peatlands trap a large amount of carbon but this can be released in different forms as a) the peatlands dry out, b) become damaged and c) under certain types of peatland management or use.
This activity brings together UK government agencies and departments with academic researchers, to design a programme of research which will address key evidence gaps around the management of UK peatlands and their flux of greenhouse gases and carbon.
The project will inform a programme of research and monitoring to provide new evidence.
What will the activity do?
The activity to design a programme to address evidence gaps in greenhouse gas and carbon flux from UK peatlands will
- Provide information on the influence of different peatland types and managements on national greenhouse gas release and uptake
- Inform improved management of peatlands to deliver climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation and other services
- Make policy makers aware that appropriate management and restoration is necessary for the ecosystem service role of peatlands to minimise carbon release to the atmosphere.
There are two main parts to this activity:
- the first key output will be a review of existing information on peatlands and greenhouse gases, which will tell us what we really know from the information that we already have
- the second key output will be the publication of a framework of monitoring, research and other activities suggested to fill in the biggest gaps in our knowledge of how peatland type and management affect the flows of greenhouse gas and carbon from UK peatlands.
Detailed reports, as well as a short summary for policy makers will be published on the findings and recommendations. This will be used by the potential funders (such as the Environment Agency, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Countryside Council for Wales) to help them decide on their research and monitoring spend in this area.
The report and policy summary will be available in early 2011.
How will the outputs be used?
- The UK government and authorities will have a more accurate understanding of how peatland type and management affects greenhouse gas release
- Policy makers will have co-ordinated evidence to encourage climate change mitigation and adaptation as part of peatland use and management in the UK
Business and society
- Managers will have information needed for effective management and restoration of peatlands to enhance their role in trapping and storing carbon and greenhouse gas alongside biodiversity, cultural, archaeological and other functions.
PROGRAMME FACTS AND FIGURES
Total investment: £40k
Start and end dates: 01/11/2009 to 31/12/2010
Other organistions involved:
EXTRA INFORMATION - The Importance of peatlands
Over the past 10,000 years UK peatlands have stored significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and peatlands contain over half the carbon stored in UK soils.
However, peatlands in the UK have been extensively degraded leading to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
As well as direct loss to the air, damaged peatlands can also lose stored carbon through rainwater pathways underground and through streams (as particulate or dissolved organic matter, and as dissolved inorganic carbon derived from organic materials).
There is an increasing need to restore damaged peatlands, partly to protect the carbon that they store.
The importance of peatland management to the releases of greenhouse gases has been recognised globally and within Europe. In the UK the ECOSSE project and the Partnership Project to protect and enhance Peat Soils aim to understand the impacts of management and land use on carbon and green house gases fluxes in peatlands. However a recent review indicates a lack of monitoring data to indicate the typical range of emissions that are associated with peat under different management regimes.
The relationship between peatland management and rates of water-borne carbon loss has been well studied in a few upland peatland sites in the UK, owing to their importance for water quality, but other types of peatland (e.g. lowland fen peats) have not been studied. Also, the fate of carbon lost through these pathways remains unknown.