Carbon regulation, greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration and Climate change mitigation.
As large volumes of dead and decaying organic matter, peatlands are a globally important land-based carbon store. Peatlands are currently the UK’s largest terrestrial carbon store, covering around 10% of UK land area and storing approximately 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon (IUCN Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands, 2011).
Reducing the amount of carbon lost from peatlands into the environment, by reducing further erosion, and enhancing the quantity of carbon it takes up, through practical restoration, may help mitigate against future climate changes. Calculating annual carbon budgets allows us to assess the impact of land management practices, predominantly conservation works such as re-vegetation, on carbon flows into and out of moorland ecosystems.
Right: The ‘Durham Model’, developed by Fred Worral, Models developed by Fred Worrall (Sustainable Uplands project, co-funded by Moors for the Future and Natural England) was used to calculate the carbon budget of the Peak District.
Whilst intact peat acts as a carbon store and sink, damaged peat decreases the magnitude of carbon intake/storage to such an extent that it can become a net source of carbon. Due to the degraded nature of peatlands in the Peak district National Park there is the potential to increase its carbon uptake through moorland restoration.
Revegetation and conservation works have the potential to reverse the effects of peat damage, flipping bare peat back from a net carbon source to a sink, which not only avoids future loss of carbon into the atmosphere and water supply (mitigating against increased climate change) but also accumulates carbon as a net sink. Based on current conservation works, there is the potential to increase the carbon uptake of the Peak District from 41.1KtC yr-1 to 56.6 KtC yr-1, an increase of 15.4 KtC yr-1 (Worrall et al 2009), the equivalent of planting approximately 15,000 broadleaved trees per year (http://www.carbonfootprint.com ).
Research Note - Soil and Water Conservation; Opportunities to Combat Climate Change
Research Note - Peak District Moorland Carbon Flux