The IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s ‘Commission of Inquiry into Peatlands’ has received alarming evidence that peat soils, being washed down massive networks of old drainage ditches are releasing millions of tonnes of carbon and destroying important wildlife habitats.
Further evidence on how to help tackle this problem and restore our damaged peatlands will be taken from expert witnesses – including Dr Chris Miller from the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside – at the Inquiry Open Event on 3rd November 2010 in the University of Edinburgh.
The Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands is gathering evidence demonstrating just how important our peatlands are for storing carbon, maintaining clean drinking water supplies, supporting biodiversity and a preserving a rich historical archive.
Clifton Bain, Director of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme said “Our inquiry’s highlights the costs to society from allowing peatlands to deteriorate. Peatlands have been damaged by drainage, fires and grazing with large areas eroding into rivers and reservoirs, costing water companies millions of pounds in extra treatment. We are now focusing our Inquiry on repairing this damage with the help of land managers and other experts who have been successful in peatland restoration.”
Dr Mike Billet who is giving evidence from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh said: “Our long term investigations at Auchencorth Moss, a peat bog in Midlothian, demonstrate that these areas remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Rewetting previously drained bogs can help meet climate change targets and by investing in science to improve our understanding there could be considerable cost savings.”
Simon Thorpe, Director of the Moorland Forum said: “Land managers are increasingly aware of the importance of our peatlands and have led the way in helping repair them because of an interest in good management for farming, sporting or wildlife. By also tackling wider issues such as climate change there is a strong case for more targeted support for good peatland management.
Dr Tim Thom, Programme manager for the Yorkshire Peat Partnership said: “In our peatland restoration project in the North of England we have identified over 2000km of drains needing to be blocked to help restore the peatland and halt the massive erosion which gets worse the longer we leave it.”
The Open Event for the Inquiry on peatlands will be held on Wednesday 3rd November at Thomson’s Land, University of Edinburgh where the Inquiry panel will take evidence from expert witnesses and members of the public. Details are available on the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s website at http://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org