Adaptive Management

Shifting management of drained peatlands under intensive productive use to deliver wetter ways of farming


Image © Clifton Bain

Adaptive Management

Some existing land uses currently rely on maintaining drainage of peatlands. Resulting negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts can be reduced by providing new products that thrive on wet peatland soils, minimising the need for drainage. This represents an opportunity to maintain farming livelihoods and generate new enterprises within UK agriculture.

The UK Peatland Strategy highlights the following objectives for adaptive management of peatlands:  

  • Improve farming practices on peat soil to slow the loss of soil carbon by encouraging:
    • Partial conversion of ploughed land to grass conversion e.g. buffer strips, field corner management etc.
    • Other practices to reduce soil and soil carbon loss in the absence of re-wetting
    • Water management to encourage higher water levels within the peat soils.
  • Develop and introduce wetland agriculture systems to the UK:
    • Trial new systems for and new ways of working that can reduce the carbon impact of agricultural practices on peat soils. This will include the trial and development of novel crops.
    • Look to new markets for products from sustainably managed peatlands and develop alternative products where the use of peatland is unsustainable. In doing this, ensure that the burden of any impacts is not exported to other countries.

To achieve the following outcomes:

  • The impact of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural use of peat is reduced through a shift to better farming
  • The distribution and extent of agricultural peat soils across the UK is maintained through the introduction of new soil management regimes and cropping systems.

The milestones to help monitor progress against these outcomes are:

2020 - Vision agreed for agricultural soils.
2030 - Early opportunities are being delivered for agricultural peat soils to bring them under sustainable
management regimes.
2040 - Vision for agricultural peat soils is delivered.
 

Managed burning of heather © North Pennines AONB
A burning issue: comparison between Australian & UK fire management misses the mark. The news of the ongoing Australian fires is deeply concerning both in terms of the impact on people…
IUCN Resolution 43 reporting
IUCN Resolution 43 reportingNew report on progress under IUCN Resolution 43: Securing the future of global peatlands available…
Langlands Moss Restoration works underway
Langlands Moss Restoration works underwayLanglands Moss Local Nature Reserve, on the south edge of East Kilbride, Scotland is set to be…
Snowdonia Society volunteers creating heather bale dams on the Migneint, Snowdonia. © Dan Struthers Photography
Working together for the future of Welsh peatlandsA major programme of works is underway this season to restore peatlands across Wales. A large…
European Peatland Strategies workshop - Bonn, Germany
European Peatland Strategies workshop - Bonn, Germany Over 30 representatives from across 12 European countries attended a workshop to examine existing…
Bog cotton landscape © Stephen Price
Peatlands and the climate emergency2019 has seen all four devolved governments across the UK declare a climate emergency which will…
Richard Payne
A tribute to Richard Payne The IUCN UK Peatlands Programme team were all saddened to hear the shocking news about the death of…
Image of sphagnum in pool © Joe Holden
Sphagnum is a key ingredient of natural flood managementIn 2008 iCASP published research that showed how water running over Sphagnum on blanket peatlands…
Image of V-notch in ply-sheet dam © Emma Shuttleworth
Peat restoration and natural flood managementThe Upland Environments Research Unit at the University of Manchester has been working closely with…
Image of bog vegetation © Dom Hinchley
New edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management HandbookA new edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management Handbook is now available. Conserving Bogs: The…
Rob Stoneman at the House of Commons flanked by Rob Brown and Julian Sturdy
Managing the Uplands for Public Benefit House of Commons ReceptionOver 48 representatives from across the peatland community in the UK as well as MPs and Peers…
Large heath butterfly
Peatland biodiversity - butterflies & mothsAt Butterfly Conservation we understand the great value of healthy functioning peatlands for…