Work to restore Wales’ peatlands beats annual target
Work to restore Wales’ peatlands is progressing ahead of schedule, according to a new report from National Resources Wales.
In the last 12 months over 1000 hectares, the equivalent of 1400 football pitches, was restored across Wales, comfortably beating the Welsh Government’s annual target of 650 hectares.
Peatlands, also known as bogs, mires or moors, can have a big impact on human-induced climate change if managed properly while also reversing biodiversity decline.
When peatlands are in good condition, they act as a carbon sink – locking in vast amounts of carbon formed over millennia – and they can also reduce flood risk, improve water quality, support biodiversity and have a net cooling effect on climate.
The 4% of Wales covered by peat stores up to 30% of Wales’ soil carbon.
When peatlands are damaged, however, they become a significant carbon emitter, accelerating climate change.
Climate Change Minister, Julie James said: “Bogs might not sound very glamorous, but they are Wales’ unsung heroes – especially during prolonged periods of dry or wet weather, like we have seen recently.
“When peat bogs are in a good state of repair, they are our most efficient terrestrial carbon sinks; they are home to a wide range of wildlife and plants, and even help purify our drinking and bathing water.
“Their restoration is vital to our response to the nature and climate emergencies so this report by NRW is very welcome news and I want to thank them for their hard work in accelerating their efforts to peat the target!
“We must ensure we continue to protect and cherish our valuable peatland ecosystem.”
National Peatland Action Programme Project Manager, Dr Rhoswen Leonard added: “Peatland restoration is a big growth area to address the climate and nature emergencies, so we’re very grateful to our partners, for their impressive successes in re-wetting peat, and to the innovative contractors who adapted techniques and equipment to address the challenges on site.”
Restoration of peatlands is typically done by focusing on the hydrology of an area, and through restoration works the ‘re-wetting’ of peatlands will allow their return to a near natural state.
Re-wetting is a comparatively simple solution to both increase carbon storage and re-establish biodiversity, as habitats are restored for mosses, insects, birds, and other creatures to thrive.
Farmers also play an important role in peatland restoration as they help identify the breeds, often traditional breeds, that thrive best on restored peatland and, through discussion with ecologists, establish the best stock rate for different seasons.
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