Monday, May 30, 2022

Protect Peat

 Peatlands cover around 12% of the land in the UK and store an estimated 3 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to all the forests in the UK, Germany and France put together. An estimated 80% of the UK's peatlands are in a damaged and deteriorating condition because of present and past land management activities including drainage, peat cutting, and fire, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

UK peatlands are already releasing almost 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 each year - equivalent to the average emissions of around 660,000 UK households - more than all the households of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds combined.

These emissions are likely to increase with further peatland deterioration as the climate changes,

The government last year introduced a ban on burning peat deeper than 40cm in some protected areas of England. Some shooting estates in England burn deep peat moorland in protected areas despite a government ban, say the RSPB and Greenpeace.

England's deep peat soils support rare ecosystems and store huge amounts of carbon. Peatland vegetation has traditionally been burnt to create and maintain habitats to raise grouse for shooting. A traditional practice on shooting estates, burning clears the way for the new green shoots grouse like to eat, but also releases stored carbon into the atmosphere.

The RSPB and Greenpeace are calling for a blanket ban on burning on all peat.

"Intensive and damaging land management practices such as burning continue to harm and further threaten these vital carbon and nature-rich ecosystems", said Dr Patrick Thompson, a senior policy officer at RSPB UK.

"Why on earth is the government allowing grouse moor owners to turn swathes of national parks and protected sites into charred wasteland for the private gain of a few landowners?" asked Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK.

Peat soil fires: Campaigners say England's 'rainforests' illegally burned - BBC News

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