Peatland conservation and the UK Peatland Code
Presentation by Paul Leadbitter, The North Pennines AONB Partnership
Eurosite Annual Meeting 2016, Serres, Greece
At almost 2000 km2, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of the largest protected areas in the UK and with 27% of England’s blanket bog resource, the AONB contains the largest contiguous upland blanket bog in England. Blanket bog is an internationally protected habitat that is globally important for its biodiversity value, its ability to impact global CO2 emissions, provide clean drinking water to millions of people, ameliorate flooding and preserve the historic environment. Despite its importance, blanket bog is still undervalued as a habitat and as such is generally in poor condition nationwide.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership (NPAP) has been restoring peatlands for over 10 years and is now working with the IUCN UK Peatland Programme to validate a new ecosystem services financial instrument called the UK Peatland Code. The UK Peatland Code is a mechanism by which the private sector can help fund peatland restoration projects. Designed to ensure environmental credibility, the Peatland Code is a voluntary standard that quantifies carbon emission reductions of restored peatlands, so that businesses can invest in pre-selected projects with confidence that their funds will return clear carbon benefits. With little financial incentive for land managers to restore peatlands which have become degraded through damaging management practices, the Peatland Code can provide much needed funds to landowners in return for carbon, water and biodiversity benefits. The Peatland Code has not been fully tested on the ground and NPAP working with partners from the EU and UK will demonstrate a series of ‘Concept to Contract’ trials of the UK Peatland Code to showcase and test the on the ground viability of it as an income stream to encourage landowners to restore and maintain peatlands.
Photo: © North Pennines AONB Partnership