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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. An indicative timeline for the process is presented below:

Commission of Inquiry Update Process

The Call for Experts is now closed (end date: 19th July 2017). The applications are currently being assessed by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and appointments will be made during August 2017. Appointments will be based on demonstration of peatland expertise and the level of in-kind contribution the applicant is able to offer the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update process. We will be seeking to appoint a single lead author and a team of co-authors: this team will liaise with the relevant peatland experts and stakeholders through topic specific workshops and communications.

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).


We have a finite budget identified for the production of the Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands Update and are seeking additional funding and in-kind contributions to support this work.

To facilitate the production of listed outputs, an honorarium or small grant will be made available to cover direct costs of facilitating this work (e.g. travel and subsistence). For each topic we will be able to offer either:

  1. An honorarium of up to £300 per author to cover travel and subsistence costs
  2. Or, if desirable, the topic authors may wish to collectively request up to £3,000 open access page charges with aim of open access publication of material in a peer-reviewed journal.

We would be happy to discuss alternative suggestions for funding aspects of this work if additional costs are likely to be incurred. Please indicate this on your application form.

The funding will be paid in two installments with 50% of the total at the start of the project and 50% of the total on submission of the final report. Alternative arrangements can be made if part payments are needed earlier. The IUCN UK Peatland Programme is not able to contribute to university bench fees or university overheads. If this presents a problem, please contact us.

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

  • 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.