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Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update 2017-18


The IUCN UK Peatland Programme Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands set out to produce a set of reports assessing the peatland science around key topics that were of relevance to policy makers. The findings, published in 2011, represented the culmination of 18 months of collaboration between experts from land management, science and policy from across the UK and revealed the enormous importance of peatlands for people and wildlife.

Those involved in peatland advocacy and policy require an authoritative set of reports assessing the science on key topics of relevance to policy makers. Likewise, the scientific community will benefit from a clear presentation of future research priorities, whilst major funders of scientific research are keen that their funding is used to generate applied research that can be utilised through policy action.

The Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands (2011) successfully brought together peatland evidence from across the UK in a concise and accessible format. However, in light of a number of emerging peatland topics and new evidence, the IUCN UK Peatland Programme is proposing an update. An online consultation on topic areas for the update has been completed, resulting in topics being chosen where the evidence is thought to be rapidly evolving, unclear, or where consensus is needed to foster joint action for peatlands.

New topics that require evidence to be gathered in the form of a techincal review include:

In addition to these new topics, aspects of the 2011 Commission of Inquiry will be revisited to update the information contained within the summary document and to reinforce key messages and recommendations. This will include updates to:

Aims of the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update:

  • The outputs from the update will provide an authoritative set of briefings based on scientific consensus on the state of peatlands and the benefits of restoring and conserving them
  • The update will be scientifically sound, drawing on published work where available, but bringing in grey-literature and expert opinion where required
  • Consensus building will be integral to the update process, with the aim of providing clear messages to the policy and practitioner community to allow action for peatland restoration and sustainable management
  • The update approach will be through partnership and broad ownership from science, policy and practice. This will be facilitated through engagement from all sectors (Government, statutory agencies, NGOs, business, landowners and academic institutions) in the review writing, the evaluation of technical reviews and the Open Inquiry as experts, stakeholders or panel members
  • There will be a strong focus on conveying the messages of the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update in a variety of formats, including graphical presentation of the key messages. There will be an emphasis on providing materials that are of use to those working in peatland policy and peatland advocacy to convey the benefits of peatland conservation and restoration.


The Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update will run throughout 2017 and 2018. Experts were recruited through a 'call for experts' process (closed 19th July 2017) and appointed based on their experience and proposed contributions. Topic specific reports are currently being drafted and will be completed summer 2018. These will inform an Open Inquiry Event (date and venue TBC) and will be summarised into a main report, which will collate relevant findings from the 2011 work and incorporate updated material. The publication of the topic reports and main summary report is anticipated towards the end of 2018/19.

Outputs of the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update (2018):

The Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update will produce the following outputs:

  • A Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update report and summary document that draws together the key findings and recommendations of the individual topic reports and Open Inquiry events
  • Technical reviews (where produced) and commissioned evidence; additional associated journal publications (where applicable)
  • A set of summary policy briefings that succinctly convey the evidence presented within the technical reports
  • Graphical representations of the key findings, which can be used to support peatland policy and advocacy
  • Web-based content on the new IUCN UK Peatland Programme website (being re-built 2017/18).

Why be involved in the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update?

If you are not currently involved in the Commission of Inquiry Update but would like to offer some input to the process or a specific topic, please contact the team (info@iucn.org.uk) to discuss opportunities.

  • Share knowledge with a wide range of partners and collaborate with new colleagues from parallel disciplines
  • Gain an overview of the existing knowledge gaps, for example, to inform future applications for applied research funding
  • Open a clear pathway to impact for academic researchers: an opportunity to directly apply your knowledge and research to peatland policy, especially the rapidly evolving development of post-Brexit agricultural and environment policy across UK. Bespoke advice on claiming impacts as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is available free-of-charge via Fast Track Impact
  • Opportunities for future engagement with IUCN UK Peatland Programme to pursue impacts in policy and practice arising from the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update
  • Option to publish the material produced in the technical reports as part of a special issue in a relevant journal
  • Contribute directly to UK and international implementation of IUCN Global Resolution 43: 'Securing the future for global peatlands", international progress against which is being monitored by IUCN UK National Committee
  • Contribute to the implementation of the UK Peatland Strategy and individual country plans by helping to establish the current evidence and consensus view in relation to peatlands in the UK
  • Opportunity to present the findings from your topic at the annual IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference in 2018 to be held in Scotland
  • Opportunity for your work and findings to be highlighted through the IUCN UK Peatland Programme online channels including Twitter and monthly e-newsletter
  • Boost online traffic to your own website and social media channels, through promotion of findings via the IUCN UK Peatland Programme channels
  • Benefit from potential media publicity around publication of reports and public inquiry events
  • Engage and build relationships with key decision makers associated with peatlands.