"This IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands presents one of the most extensive assessments of peatlands undertaken in the UK to date. It identifies the state and value of peatland ecosystems and develops ways to safeguard and restore their natural capital." Lord Jamie Lindsay, Professor Andrew Watkinson & Sir Graham Wynne, Patrons of the IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands.
The 2011 IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands brought together over 300 contributors from over 50 organisations drawing on a wide range of expertise from science, policy and practice. The Assessment draws together the Inquiry’s findings and clearly demonstrates the value of healthy peatlands to society, the damage which has been done to them, and the huge liability of doing nothing to repair this damage. Click for Summary of findings.
It is of great concern that the Inquiry found that much of the UK’s peatlands have been damaged, with severe consequences for biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services. A significant amount of carbon is leaking into the atmosphere from drained and deteriorating peatlands.
This is particularly alarming as a loss of only 5% of the carbon stored in peat would equate to the UK’s total annual green house gas emissions. On the other hand, healthy peatlands and those that have been restored and enhanced can make a positive contribution to tackling climate change.
The Inquiry identified a clear strategy for action to bring our peatlands back from the brink, and points the way forward to avoid the social and environmental costs of further deterioration.
This report makes clear the multiple benefits of peatland conservation and restoration, particularly in relation to carbon savings, cleaner drinking water, wildlife conservation and historic archive preservation.
The Commission of Inquiry was led by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and managed through partnership. A wide range of sectors engaged in the production of scientific reviews and responded to an open consultation process. The Inquiry process was supported by discussions at the two IUCN UK Peatland Programme conferences ‘Investing in Peatlands: the Climate Challenge’ in Durham, 2010, and ‘Investing in Peatlands: Delivering Multiple Benefits’ in Stirling, 2011, along with contributions of written and oral evidence from the inquiry open event in Edinburgh in November 2010, organised with kind support of the University of Edinburgh. Land management organisations have been closely involved in the Inquiry, and opportunities were given to those with practical peatland management experience to input to the findings.