Experts gather in Shrewsbury to create lasting legacy for peatlands

November 28, 2016

Shrewsbury is to play host to the UK’s largest gathering of peatland experts at the annual IUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference this week. Post-Brexit discussions will set the future for our environment and the conference provides an important reminder of the many valuable services that nature provides.

Scientists, conservationists, land managers and policy-makers will come together for three days of talks, discussions and field trips to explore how our generation can be the one that creates a lasting legacy for healthy peatlands.

Peatlands in good condition can provide us with clean drinking water; a carbon store – locking it up, helping to mitigate climate change; homes for wildlife; open spaces for recreational activities, wildlife-watching or just peace-of-mind. They are also places where people live and work, bringing benefits to often fragile rural economies.

With the majority of UK peatlands currently in a degraded state, these nature-based solutions are under threat. The challenge now is to repair our peatlands and ensure their long term well-being. The IUCN UK Peatland Programme (IUCN UK PP) works to do this by building collaborative partnerships between scientists, NGOs, businesses, land managers and Government. Jonathan Hughes, Chair of the IUCN UK PP said:

“The conference is an exciting opportunity for all those interested in securing the future of our peatlands. It’s a time to come together and shape the agenda for what is increasingly recognised as one of the UK’s most important natural assets. The 2011 Commission of Inquiry reported 80% of our peatlands are damaged and that figure has barely changed. We now need to be more ambitious to urgently meet the full scale of our peatland challenge.”

Dr Joan Daniels M.B.E, Natural England’s Marches Mosses BogLIFE Project Officer, said:

“Most people don’t realise how important the world’s peatlands are, not only for the survival of rare wildlife but also for our own lives. Having such a prestigious gathering of peatland experts here in north Shropshire, once covered by so many wetlands, will hopefully help Britain’s remaining peatlands to become more resilient to whatever the future throws at them.”

With many examples of partnership working to restore peatlands in and around Shropshire, Shrewsbury was an obvious choice when it came to choosing a location for the conference. Communications Manager for the IUCN UK PP, Joanna Richards, said:

“Conference hosts, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England are working hard with partners in the area to restore peatlands that will bring benefit to locals and the wider community. From the Meres & Mosses Partnership working with private estates such as Cholomondley, to Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Shropshire Wildlife Trust about to embark on a £5 million Marches Mosses BogLIFE EU-LIFE funded restoration project at Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses and Wem Mosses National Nature Reserves, there is a real appetite for change.”

Government across the UK has recognised the need for change to bring about a healthier peatland environment for the benefits of all society. Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defra, who is to address the conference via video, said “it is imperative that we work with experts in the field to better understand how we can protect our peatlands so they continue to thrive”. This conference will help drive the discussion on what needs to be done.

The 6th annual IUCN UK PP conference, ‘Creating a Legacy for Peatlands’, will take place 29th November – 1st December at the Shropshire Conference Centre.

Belfast Skyline (c) Visit Belfast
2019 Conference - Ticket Sales Now OpenIUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference 2019 - Peatlands: Investing in the Future 1st - 3rd October…
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…
Cover of GHG emissions inventory
Inclusion of peatlands in the UK's GHG emissions inventory publishedThe long-awaited report on inclusion of peatlands in the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions…
Marsden Moor fire © BBC News
Record breaking Spring temperatures exacerbate wildfire outbreaks across the UKThe summer heatwave of 2018 was accompanied by wildfires across the UK with a major incident…
Staff from RSPB, Scottish Water and the contractor, McGowan Ltd, discuss the successful works at Moss of Kinmundy
Ugie Peatland Partnership welcomes restoration of local bogBog restoration works are expected to benefit local water quality and nature, as well as contribute…
Delgates at the policy and practice workshop
New initiative to combine data across studies and sites to better inform peatland policy and practice Researchers, practitioners and policy-makers from across Europe, whose goal is to understand better…