New briefing tackles the peat depth debate

June 23, 2023


Front page of 'Peat Depth Criteria' briefing.Use of Peat Depth Criteria: Accounting for the Lost Peatlands

Almost half of our peatland resource risks being side-lined by reliance on peat depth criteria for mapping and decision making derived from an historic interest in peatlands for exploitative use. Peat depth thresholds used to identify important areas for commercial peat extraction and agriculture exclude shallower peatlands which are hugely significant for the much broader range of peatland ecosystem services that we now value.

A new IUCN UK PP briefing, 'Peat Depth Criteria: Accounting for the Lost Peatlands', explains that defining and managing our peatlands in a way that reflects their full potential of value is vital to achieving our climate, water and biodiversity goals. It recommends assessing the impact for strategic peatland objectives of peatlands excluded by depth criteria policies and to develop a more inclusive approach to peatland classification and mapping that better recognises ecological and hydrological function and status.

The briefing gives the background to peat and peatland definitions and the constraints placed by past interest in exploitative uses. It is hoped that discussion around this significant issue can be used to provide a more comprehensive approach to mapping the peatland resource and informing policy and land management decisions.

Download the document here.