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The Peatland Code is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefit of peatland restoration.
Peatlands are naturally waterlogged systems. This slows down decomposition and enables plant remains, containing carbon removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis, to be laid down as peat. As a result peatlands in their natural state can accumulate carbon, in the form of peat, at a rate of approximately 1mm a year. It is this capacity for long-term carbon storage that sets peatlands apart from other ecosystems and means that they can play a key role in climate regulation.
Much of the UK’s peatland, however, is no longer sequestering and storing carbon. As a result of decades of unsuitable land management practices it has instead become a significant net source of Greenhouse Gases currently emitting 16 million tonnes of CO2e each year. This is equivalent to around half of all of the reduction efforts made annually in the UK. Preventing further damage and restoring healthy ecosystem function can therefore play an important role in climate regulation within the UK.
The UK has committed to safeguarding peatlands and restoration work here has been both tried and tested, and shown to be effective. A partnership effort will, however, be required to extend this work and bring about the scale of restoration required.
A significant barrier to peatland restoration is financial with current public funding being both limited and competitive. To make peatland restoration economically attractive additional funding sources are required. One such source of funding is the voluntary carbon market. To access the voluntary carbon market, however, buyers need to be given assurance that the climate benefits are real, quantifiable, additional and permanent. The Peatland Code is the mechanism through which such assurances can be given.
The Peatland Code is a voluntary standard for UK peatland projects wishing to market the climate benefit of restoration. It sets out a series of best practice requirements including a standard method of quantification which when validated by an independent body will give assurance to buyers that their purchase will return verifiable climate benefit over the project duration.
The Peatland Code is currently designed to facilitate private investment motivated by corporate social responsibility. It is not intended for use in carbon offset schemes, corporate carbon reporting or to be traded on international carbon markets.
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