Global call for action on peatlands to avoid catastrophic loss

September 6, 2016

At the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, delegates have passed a motion calling for better protection and restoration of the world’s peatlands.

The motion highlighted the potential for catastrophic loss of carbon, biodiversity and harm to water systems unless urgent action was taken to protect, restore and sustainably manage peatlands, which are present in more than 175 countries.

The currently known extent of peatlands occupy 3% of the Earth’s land surface area, yet more carbon is stored in this area than all the world’s vegetation, including forests. Damaged peatlands release two gigatonnes of carbon to the atmosphere each year, equivalent to the carbon emissions of all air travel. A large proportion of which is coming from drained peatlands in South East Asia, where emissions are increasing at an alarming rate.

Clifton Bain, Director of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme said: “The IUCN motion acknowledges the important role of the UK as a major peatland nation helping lead the way in tackling climate change by rewetting peatlands – a nature-based solution in the tool kit to address this global problem.

“We now need to build on this early momentum and ensure the UK and its devolved administrations have a lasting strategy to repair and look after our peatlands and support the farmers, crofters and other land managers in maintaining the vital peatland benefits for all of society.”

IUCN World Congress 2016 - PeatlandsJonathan Hughes (on the right), Global Councillor for the IUCN and Chair of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme said: “The IUCN is the largest global voice for nature conservation, with representation from Government and civil society. Having this hugely influential group agree that peatlands are a priority for action is great news. The world’s leaders have been given a clear steer that we cannot continue with the damage and destruction of our peatlands and that better protection is needed under national and international laws dealing with climate change, water and biodiversity.”

Stuart Brooks (on the left), Chair of the IUCN UK National Committee said: “As a UK representative at this important event it was inspiring to see the overwhelming support for peatlands among so many delegates. Peatlands occur on every continent of the world with countries sharing many of the same peatland issues. It is clear from discussion among delegates that we can all benefit from each other’s experiences and help build a strong global response to secure our peatlands.”

Notable engagement in how global action on peatlands might be secured to address climate change was seen from Indonesia and Hawaii during a workshop hosted by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and supported by IUCN Climate Change lead, Dr Sandeep Sengupta, at the IUCN World Congress.

The UK, which is amongst the top twelve nations for peatland area, has been challenged by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme to restore 1 million hectares of peatlands by 2020.


For full details of the motion passed at the IUCN World Congress please visit: https://portals.iucn.org/congress/motion/046.      

 

Sphagnum moss harvesting at trial site, Greifswald Mire Centre © Tobias Dahms
Wet agriculture - a tool in the climate action toolboxWith the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, complimenting traditional…
Money for peatland restoration
Budget announcements for UK peatland restoration Peatlands received a welcome funding boost in the UK Budget 2020.  In a move to support the…
Peatlands in the EU post CAP
Peatlands in the UK beyond Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)The IUCN UK Peatland Programme continues to feed into the international peatland agenda, recently…
Afforested peatland restoration at Forsinard  © Neil Cowie/RSPB
Peatland & Trees position statement releasedThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have released a position statement and recommendations on Trees on…
Caithness Wildfire, 2019 © Paul Turner
Burning & Peatlands Position StatementThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have updated our position statement on Burning and Peatlands which…
Dubh lochans and blanket bog at The Flows NNR near Forsinard, Caithness. June 2011 ©Lorne Gill/SNH/2020VISION
Scottish Budget 2020-21The Scottish Government announces £20 million for peatland restoration and a commitment to invest £…
Land use: policies for a Net Zero UK CCC report
Committee on Climate Change Report on Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UKThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme welcomes strengthened policy and legislative recommendations in the…
Multiple effects of peatland drainage
New resource available: Explaining the impact of peatland drainage.Illustrating the multiple effects of peatland drainage including implications for carbon emissions…
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…