Conference Key Messages
- Peatlands are important to us all – our largest natural carbon store, homes for rare and threatened wildlife, cultural and ecological archives, water supply and management, places to enjoy and relax, and places local people identify with and an important part of the ‘brand’ for food and drink.
Terms such as public benefits, ecosystem services, Natural capital all define these peatland features in ways that communicate with particular audiences.
The challenge we face are:
- People don’t always make the connection between their lives or businesses and the role of peatlands. Peatlands are often considered as worthless or dangerous.
- The evidence around peatland benefits remains rather academic and needs to be made more easily communicated. The Commission of Inquiry review will be published in Spring 2019 as a tool to help provide the evidence to be used in communications.
- Many people and communities already do recognise and value peatlands especially those who work in around peatlands but also those who go to peatlands for pleasure. We need to mobilise and give a voice to those who do enjoy and value peatlands.
- We urgently need to take action – The UK Peatland strategy and developing country plans set out a course of action. There is an urgency to take these forward:
- The Paris Climate Agreement makes it clear we all need to do everything possible to reduce emissions – that means reducing the significant emissions from damaged peatlands. Declining biodiversity and the increased costs to society arising from damaged peatlands to drinking water and flood management also require urgent action.
- Secure the right funding to repair peatlands now and avoid higher costs to society. At a time of great economic and policy uncertainty we need to make sure that decision makers and the public see the economic social and environmental case for action on peatlands. Two major policy areas need to be addressed:
- The value of peatlands to society isn’t reflected in the support received by those who manage them. There needs to be a shift towards payment for the public benefitsof peatlands in both Rural landuse policy and private investment.
- If we are to achieve the scale and speed of restoration required we need a step change in investment – with a combination of Government targeted funds for peatlands – ‘challenge’ fund type grants such as Peatland Action as well as increased private funding.
- Partnerships are a very effective way of supporting peatland restoration whether at the national level, regional or site level. Funding support to maintain the knowledge, staff skills expertise of these partnerships is essential to delivering our peatland goals.
- The IUCN UK PP is a national partnership and this series of conferences provides a platform for exchange of ideas and knowledge across policy makers, scientists and practitioners. It also brings together more regional and local partnerships such as MFF, YPP, Exmoor mires, Flows to the Future and site partnerships such as Friends of Langlands moss.
- We need a ten year funding commitment to support a national framework of partnerships helping deliver restoration, building stakeholder support, providing advice, communicating the benefits and supporting science and survey.
- The Business sector needs to be encouraged to recognise and invest in peatlands as an important part of securing their economic bottom line, whether that’s tackling climate change, supporting brand identity or avoiding infrastructure damage arising from flooding. The opportunities for staff and customers to see peatlands and peatland restoration first hand should be promoted.
- We have the track record of delivering peatland restoration - Restoration of peatlands has been taking place for decades and we have the skills and knowledge to deliver great results with hundreds of fantastic demonstration projects each able to demonstrate different benefits. They also provide a real opportunity to communicate peatland values
- We need improved monitoring and survey to better quantify peatland benefits and to assess the impact of restoration and good management. We also need better systems in place to monitor progress against our strategic goals and international obligations. Research funding for long term survey and routine monitoring is vital to properly understand the way in which peatlands respond to damaging and positive impacts, particularly in the face of climate change.
- There is increasing global concern at the state of our peatlands with international initiatives looking to address the damage to peatlands including the United Nations, Global peatlands Initiative, Ramsar and the IUCN. The UK is seen as a world leader in taking strategic action for peatlands as well as showcasing restoration successes.
- The use of peat in horticulture is unsustainable. Targets to end the use of peat in the UK will not only help protect rare and threatened lowland peatland habitat but will also stimulate a new thriving horticulture supply industry based around sustainable products.